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Speechless

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Speechless is proof in the pudding that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Old dog? Take a look at Bruce Cockburn's photo in the CD booklet. Speechless is the singer/songwriter's first foray into completely instrumental territory. There are 15 tracks here, the vast majority of which are redos of tracks from Cockburn's catalog. But given their treatment -- many of them done as solo guitar pieces -- the dearth of new material doesn't even matter. In fact, one could venture to say that these feel like altogether new pieces. Cockburn is a master guitarist; he often interweaves jazz, blues, country, and folk styles into his cross-genre songs. Here he shines, pure and simple. ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
Speechless is proof in the pudding that you can teach an old dog new tricks. Old dog? Take a look at Bruce Cockburn's photo in the CD booklet. Speechless is the singer/songwriter's first foray into completely instrumental territory. There are 15 tracks here, the vast majority of which are redos of tracks from Cockburn's catalog. But given their treatment -- many of them done as solo guitar pieces -- the dearth of new material doesn't even matter. In fact, one could venture to say that these feel like altogether new pieces. Cockburn is a master guitarist; he often interweaves jazz, blues, country, and folk styles into his cross-genre songs. Here he shines, pure and simple. "Train in the Rain" anyone notice how many of his songs are about trains and travel? touches on Leo Kottke and Peter Lang; "Water into Wine" utilizes flamenco stylings while crossing into Gypsy jazz chords à la Charlie Byrd. A new work, "Elegy," kisses the modalities of "Greensleeves" while creating itself as a piece that evokes both absence and memory. "Rouler Sa Bosse" from Salt, Sun and Time juxtaposes Cockburn's six-string against Jack Zaza's clarinet, and becomes a straight-up gently swinging jazz tune. The set also includes "Rise and Fall," a sought-after trio track that was previously available only in Japan. Cockburn's steel-string is accented by his playing of bells, George Koller on bass, and drummer, Ben Riley! The new version of "When It's Gone, It's Gone" showcases an entire band that includes Booker T. Jones on organ and Edgar Meyer on bass, and is the only electric tune on the set. Another new work, "The End of All Rivers," is a multi-tracked tune that has Cockburn playing not only guitar but Tibetan bowl, a Navajo flute, and a baritone guitar, which are all threaded though the melody as a digital delay marks time with his standard acoustic. It's spooky, elegiac, and utterly beguiling. The set ends with a down-home solo read of the title track from Sunwheel Dance. The most remarkable thing about Speechless is that, although it lies firmly in its own subcategory in Cockburn's catalog, it remains, despite the improvisation and textures, a recording of songs. The composer's need to establish that fact even in abstraction and extrapolation is commendable. Speechless is not only accessible -- it's downright beautiful, poetic, and seductive.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 9/27/2005
  • Label: Rounder / Umgd
  • UPC: 011661325029
  • Catalog Number: 613250

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Bruce Cockburn Primary Artist, Guitar, Bells, Navajo Flutes, Tibetan Bowls, Guitar (Baritone)
Edgar Meyer Bass
Gary Burton Vibes
Ben Riley Drums
Michael Blair Percussion
Ralph Forbes Percussion
Booker T. Jones Organ
George Koller Bass, Dilruba
Rick Lazar Percussion
Mark O'Connor Mandolin
Technical Credits
Bruce Cockburn Composer, Producer
T Bone Burnett Producer
Greg Calbi Mastering
Ken Friesen Engineer
Colin Linden Producer, Engineer
Gene Martynec Producer
Patrick McCarthy Engineer
Joe Schiff Engineer
Bill Seddon Engineer
John Whynot Engineer
Bruce Anthony Producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Cockburn Best W/Words

    THis is a fine instrumental set that shows off Cockburn's guitar skills. His acoustic playing is as good as Leo Kottke and certainly better than Clapton unplugged. I think it works best as background music while I work on the computer. I miss Bruce's electric guitat and his vocals. For those who want more acoustic Cockburn, check out his 2009 Slice o' Life 2 CD live release.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Age Is No Boundary for This Talent

    As other reviewers on this site have noted, Cockburn falls victim to the limits of exposure he receives by region. Sadly, many markets miss out on the comprehensive portfolio of quality compositions that Bruce has recorded over a long career. Without question, this first compilation of instrumentals is both creative and, simply, beautiful. By having this CD and the excellent (if you can now find it) 2-CD anthology package that was launched some time ago, you would discover a repertoire that most radio stations will never offer you.

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