1 min

Trans-Canada highway

Country CD review

BC CHARMER. Rae Spoon comes to town. Credit: Xtra files

This ain’t your ma and pa’s country music, but this sure ain’t new country, either.

Young BC artist Rae Spoon is taking the old and making it new on his first full-length CD Throw Some Dirt On Me. But he’s not making it Shania Twain pop. Instead, this trans guy is digging in his roots and staying there.

Rae’s influences are obvious. In “Chicken Factory Spoon” he sings, “I’ll be a nobody if I can’t be Woodie Guthrie,” and then hints at Guthrie’s infamous “Do Re Mi” by adapting Guthrie’s classic line, “If you ain’t got the do re mi,” with “If you ain’t got an SUV.”

It is this simple kind of twist, taking an old school folk sound and adding contemporary references that make Spoon’s country folk new again.

So dust off your cowboy hat and start chewing on some heartbreak, politics and straw – this is truly cowboy-folk. Spoon’s fingerpicking on the five-string banjo takes the reins and guides the listener through a landscape of double-bass, mandolins, acoustic guitar, a pedal steel guitar, squeeze box and sweet, sweet wavering vocals. The heartfelt “Box Car” is a memorable track (I’m a sucker for harmonicas), but the fiddle hoe-down track “Oil Rigs (No Rest)” is the real show stealer.

Rae’s image is James Dean-esque. There he is, in a cowboy hat and white shirt, with a guitar on the steps of a church or perched on the edge of a pick-up truck, as if he were visiting us from another time. And with lines like, “My plough broke down an hour ago” and “in my tin shack” it is obvious that Rae is a storyteller songwriter who has done his genre homework.

This album will charm you, and I have a sneaking suspicion he will, too.

* Rae Spoon is touring Canada and plays Café May (396 Roncesvalles Ave) on Fri, May 23 with Janine Stoll and Erin Smith; call (416) 532-9218. He then plays C’est What (19 Church St), opening for Royal Wood, on May 24 at 9:30pm. Cover is $6; call (416) 867-9499. After playing Hamilton and Guelph, he returns to Hogtown for a gig at Tallulah’s Cabaret (12 Alexander St) on Fri, May 30.


Rae Spoon. $15