Only a particular kind of prolific musician forgets about a finished record. You hear stories of delayed records, unfinished or caught up in label bureaucracy. But Eamon McGrath has been steadily churning out records for so long that you can forgive him for mentally misplacing one. And when the memory comes back — of friends hauling a piano up 13 flights of stairs, of settling into his apartment south of Dundas and writing for days — we are given this record, almost two years after it was recorded.
This is an album of death, begun the day Jack Layton died, completed a few days later. It is sadness, and it is reflection, the hope felt by the survivors. Ingrained in McGrath’s voice is the wisdom of 1000 cigarettes, bottles of whiskey, age beyond his years. This is not the bombastic punker we’ve grown to know in his White Whale collections: this is the softer side of his work, the poet stepping outside the studio to record a few moments at home — the Eamon McGrath I loved first, and still love best.