A collaboration worth singing about

Old Man Luedecke

Maybe it’s the time of year — as we turn to gatherings, peace on earth, and a spirit of generosity — that’s making our ears perk up at the sweet sounds of these voices and instruments playing together in collaboration.

Chester, Nova Scotia’s Old Man Luedecke has teamed up with Montreal string band Lake of Stew to create Sing All About It, an EP who’s title embodies the spirit of the thing.

Old Man Luedecke’s songwriting carries this bluegrassy get-together. The songs are new numbers in a style his fans will find familiar — specializing in making the personal and specific universal and general.

The opening number, “Delia and Wilhelmina,” named for the twin daughters Chris Luedecke and his partner welcomed this summer, is a celebration of life after “seven years after childless heartbreak, miracles have come to us in twos”.

Throughout the EP, it’s the detail that makes Luedecke’s songs so appealing: when’s the last time you heard the words “spray-on tan” in a banjo tune? Another song, “Monsanto Jones” is a raucous clap-along about a poor child whose fate is decided by his unfortunate first name. “Tap Water,” meanwhile, is a dirge about the virtues of municipal utilities.

Lake of Stew

There’s a palpable and authentic energy behind the vocals and instrumentation that becomes the binder between songs. Though the album’s short, the subject matter ranges from silly to serious and back again, all the while maintaining that common thread of communal joy. The album ends with an instrumental, “Biscuit Crumb Ditty,” a relatively quiet close to an otherwise racous album — the signal to press play all over again.

The record is good quality, live off the floor, and filled with the rich treasures of a spontaneous jam.  As Old Man Luedecke writes, the Lake of Stew “dropped by my house in Nova Scotia like the Carter family visiting Jimmie Rodgers.” Lead vocals are traded off,  as is Lake of Stew’s practice, but with so much an emphasis on bluegrass style harmonies, the sound is consistent.

Best of all? This seven-song EP is available as a Pay What You Can download — we recommend giving generously, both in the spirit of the album, and the season.

If you like what you hear, Old Man Luedecke is playing at the Carleton in Halifax, NS on December 19th and 20th.

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