If you thought Vancouver bluesman Jim Byrnes taking a detour into dust-swept country territory would be a strange turn, you would be dead wrong.
Listening to Byrnes’ take on classic country tunes like Hank Williams’ Honky Tonk Blues and Buck Owens’ Don’t Let Her Know will immediately lead you to believe Byrnes truly belongs in some dimly lit saloon, plucking his heartbroken strings. There’s a golden AM quality to his shimmering re-interpretation of Gordon Lightfoot’s Ribbon of Darkness and to the classic shuffle of Dolly Parton’s The Bargain Store, which floats above the dance floor buoyed by producer/multi-instrumentalist Steve Dawson’s tender guitar crunch and keyboardist Chris Gestrin’s otherworldly organ layers. Colleen Rennison (of Vancouver blues-rock band No Sinner) almost overpowers Byrnes on Pickin’ Wild Mountain Berries — the duet originally delivered by Kenny Vernon and Lawanda Lindsey — but the song is just a boat-load of fun regardless, as is Byrnes’ take on Nick Lowe’s bumpy Sensitive Man. On I Hear the Wind in the Wires Byrnes didn’t get lost in the weeds. He found a new home.