The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 01.03.07


The Red Rider rides again

Tom Cochrane's recent offering No Stranger reinforces his commitment to lyrical depth. No shallow ditties here, he confirms his place as Canada's premier songsmith. He weaves true meaning into a number of haunting tracks with familiar Cochrane guitar styling.

TomMore often than not Cochrane songs are filled with reference to the human experience and this release is no different. He shares soulful and witty observation while showcasing the good, the bad, and the ugly. On Rough and Tumble, he pays tribute to Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan while on the Party's Not Over he refers to a young girl in war- torn Mozambique. While catchy melody and rhythm are a hallmark of Cochrane songs, fans may be searching for more upbeat tempo throughout and while it's hard to identify a real rocker between tracks, fans won't be disappointed.

Radio friendly? It remains to be seen if spinners will add Tom's adaptation of the 60's classic Spirit in the Sky. In the meantime, Tom proves that there is still a boy inside the man and that he is still playing in the big leagues.

By all accounts the making of No Stranger allowed Tom to reconsider his intention that this release would be his swansong. As a Canadian Music Hall of Famer known for huge hits such as Life is a Highway, he has been quoted as saying that a number of tracks that didn't make the cut for No Stranger may appear in other form. Paths of discovery often lead to artistic release and Tom's involvement in global human issues have been fodder for many songs.

Whether penned to serve in self- healing or therapeutic release or to have been given wings to fly outwardly, his songs find listeners relating to his sentiments in an all too rare personal way.

Hugely popular country music group Rascal Flats recognized Cochrane's ability to align the personal experience with success and a new kind of audience has been exposed to Toms songwriting with their cover of Life Is A Highway for the recent Disney Pixar big screen flick Cars. The cover skyrocketed such that the band's album release almost took a back seat with a meteoric rise to the top of the billboard hemisphere.

The public may have wondered where Tom has been since his last release in 1998 with X-Ray Sierra. Appropriately, he has been doing what he does best, gathering the essences of life while on the road with his band on tour, or traveling in his volunteer efforts with World Vision. No Stranger to live performance, Tom and his band have continued to gig with over two dozen shows a year, keeping up the chops and allowing fans to get up close with the singer songwriter.

Some may refer to this record a comeback effort but clearly Tom never really went away. Fellow Canadian artist Sam Roberts has been credited as providing some gentle prodding and encouragement for this latest release and we're glad he did.