Rob Waddell, Letters Unsent
A lot of people hate the term “singer-songwriter”. Some think of it as critic speak, an easy tag for someone without a band. Surely, any musician can simply write down some words, sing along and then….BANG! Singer-songwriter. Well, it isn’t that easy. Singer-songwriters play deeply personal songs that reflect the times as well as themselves within the folk-blues tradition. Winnipeg’s Rob Waddell is one of those artists – a true musician’s musician.
His second release, Letters Unsent is gentle, understated and is easily one of the best folk albums of the year. Now I am not saying that Letters Unsent will reinvent folk music, quite the contrary, Waddell religiously stays within traditional folk lines. But, somehow, he manages to create a distinct voice for himself and that is what makes it such a great album.
The first unsent letter, “If Your House Were On Fire” is a carefree jangle blessed with pedal steel and mandolin as Waddell sings half-joking:
“But if your house were on fire
And you thought of all the things you had acquired
Say your half way out the window down the tree
Would you think at all of coming back for me”
“Were On Fire” is followed up with “Moonlight” a romance ballad that follows a love-line from that first ‘double dare’ glance, right through college ending with the picture perfect line, “To see you playing with our children warms my heart”. Bringing back the mellow backing band on “Conversion Van”, Waddell jives about “my retirement plan is to damn the man” as the band lies low punching in at just the right moments. Quickly turning solo again, “Come Down From That Ledge” is a heart-wrenching display that has Waddell trembling “It was right around then that I thought to myself, this is gonna take more than I have in me to give”.
Letters Unsent is forever bound to Waddell’s hometown of Arden Ridge Manitoba, but within these songs are tender moments that everyone will be able to find themselves in – this is the kind of album you grow old with. (Independent)
Rating: 4/5 Stars