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Music Review: Old Man Luedecke – My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs

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Old Man Luedecke, real name Chris Luedecke, is a throw back to an older and simpler time. He comes out of the Pete Seeger tradition and is comfortable on stage with just his banjo and keeping time with his feet. His 2008 release, Proof Of Love, won the Canadian Juno Award for best traditional folk album.

He has now returned with his latest release, My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs. The album remains true to folk traditions but he has expanded his sound as he recorded with a backing band. Bassist Keith Lowe, drummer John Raham, bluegrass musician deluxe Tim O’Brien on fiddle and mandolin, and producer Steve Dawson on electric guitar, keyboards, and steel guitar all provide a welcome enhancement to his music.

If there is one thing Chris Luedecke can do, it is write a song. He is a lyricist of note as he explores life’s themes of love, living, pain, with a little whimsy thrown in for good measure. He has a talent for describing the world around him. The words are then set against catchy and usually upbeat music.

Tracks such as “Lass Vicious,” “The Rear Guard,” and “Inchworm” are good examples of his style as his banjo playing is front and center as his voice interprets his stories.

“My Love Comes Stepping Up The Stairs” and particularly “Mountain Plain” flirt with a Bluegrass sound. The use of a lap steel and mandolin push the music in that direction while the words are pure folk. The result is a nice fusion of the two traditions.

Two other songs are stand-outs. “Woe Betide The Doer Of The Deed” is almost dirge like with painful lyrics. “The Palace Is Golden” is an amusing song about the serious topic of infertility. Lines such as “something in the water made a mess out of me,” are worth numerous visits.

Old Man Luedecke is an apt description of his music and style as he honors the folk traditions of the past. My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs is a fine addition to folk music’s legacy.

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