Son of a Rudderless Boat
You’ll see these words in the liner notes of Kev Corbett’s new CD ‘Son of a Rudderless Boat’ – “No autotuner was used in the making of this record.” Kev is one of the most self-aware musicians on the East Coast today. He knows his voice. If it strays occasionally, it’s more of an endearing quality than a fault, because there is more to “voice” than the mechanics of our vocal capabilities. His guileless self shows in this CD, and his mottoes seem to be – Be practical. Tell the truth. Use your skills. Call on good friends. Pace, mutter, collaborate. Practice patience. Give credit where it’s due.
This interesting batch of songs – some new to me, some not – is Kev’s best to date. Forthright tales – large and small – about road travel, politics, family and other sorts of relationships (listen for that last line in “Uncle”) and his clear outspoken love for his wife, Stephanie. “A Room With a View” focuses on an old neighbourhood near the Sydney tar ponds “where the earth longs to wash herself clean” and I hear instrumental nuances of “only love can break your heart” – with lyrics that have heartbreaking tendencies as well.
Kev’s offering to the world’s catalog of “why are we here and where are we heading?” songs is “Flowers in my Sidewalk” – poignant – in spite of, or maybe because of, the simple lyrics “time is not on our side, we don’t know where we come from, we don’t know where we’re going, when the end is gonna come…” Meaghan Smith tosses in her effortless harmonies here, and on “Deep and Wide.”
On “Flowers” I heard an interesting metallic sound and got this cool explanation from Kev. “When we were renovating, we found a piece of sheet metal in the wall.” Whoever “played” the sheet metal added an intriguing dimension to the production, as does the fading drum. The title song, closing the CD, wraps things up so succinctly – reminding us of the practical, historical and spiritual influences in our own lives that we can’t avoid… and it’s pretty clear we wouldn’t want to.
Don MacKay (of Spaces Between Studio) and Kev found the perfect “voice” for this CD, without a hint of overproduction. In addition to Kev’s skilled playing,hear trumpet and Hammond organ by master Matt Myer, “scary, tape loopy guitar back-grounds” by Jason Mingo, clean banjo bits from Old Man Luedecke, and harp licks by Mike Aube. Other offerings by Kev’s talented circle of friends are sprinkled deftly in the mix. Stephanie took the back-cover photo for the CD case that Mat Dunlap “pulled together.” No question now, Kev has his hands firmly on the oars.