Big advantage in being an older musician fronting a solid, Juno-winning rep like Jim Byrnes is you can release an album like this and still keep your record deal. Known for the rich textures, emotional depths and narrative originality of his own songs, Byrnes goes all music geek by offering his highly subjective interpretations of select tunes from the Golden age of country music.
That said, there are tunes here that aren’t strictly country (“Ribbon Of Darkness”) from artists who aren’t really country either (Tom Waits), which gets us into that hair-splitting country between an album about country songs and a country album.
Teamed again with multi-instrumentalist/producer Steve Dawson and backed by area luminaries Geoff Hicks (drums), Chris Gestrin (organ, piano), Mike Sanyshyn (fiddle), Rob Becker (bass) and John Resichman (mandolin), Byrnes delivers just the best having-the-time-of-his life album.
With a set list drawn from artists including Hank Snow, Marty Robbins, Hank Williams, Nick Lowe, Buck Owens, and Dolly Parton, delivered with love and kickass swagger, this is probably Byrnes’ most immediately accessible and lovable album.
Extra high-fives to the man for a tres cool and most applicable album title, evoking those other Canuck icons Ian ‘Four Strong Winds’ Tyson and Leonard ‘Bird On a Wire’ Cohen.