Terry Penney, The Last Guitar
Newfoundland singer-songwriter Terry Penney is launching his fifth album on Valentines Day; some artists would take advantage of this day to drop an album full of love ballads. Thankfully, Penney’s smart collection of country songs explore (and celebrate) the meaning of family, war and religion with equal passion.
The Last Guitar opens with the heart warming country jig, “Girl From Coal Creek Canyon”, a beautiful and simple love story that gives root to a family tree. Following up are two of my favourites: “Shoal Harbour” feels like an ode to his grandparents home; while “Not Without a Fight” triggers a defining moment (being bullied) into a life-long mantra.
The first war-themed song “I Have Offered” is a touching listen about a young man wanting to go to war, but, because of a fishing accident, was rejected from service. The song ends with the young man attempting to join once again, leaving the listener wondering his outcome. “Shells” is another song that sees a soldier returning from war with a very different perspective on life. Penney is at his best here, giving the word shell a deeper double meaning. Perhaps these songs are of the same story – the young man got his wish but returned with a new-found love of his past?
I can only go on and on about how vivid these songs are though because of the subtle music that connects them. It feels like these songs have a deep history to them that they have been tested on the road or in front of friends. For example, “Jesus Crisis” is from the eyes of a priest wondering about the state of religion, the song is quite sad but is buoyed with hopeful banjo, group harmonies and mandolin.
Terry Penney has crafted a wonderful album that displays all his best qualities – fun and interesting songwriting, catchy tunes and an eager love of capturing that perfect song. (Independent) ~ 4 Stars