A week ago, Sound Salvation Army's Pat bemoaned the, well, Dylan-ness of Dylan. That ultimately punk rock way that Dylan has always managed to command respect and contempt at the same time from the same people. I didn't see the current tour, so I don't know. I saw him ten years ago at what was then called the Agridome, and, well, it was pretty damn cool. It was Dylan, knocking out hot guitar and plowing through a bunch of songs that half the world knows at least some of the words to. This tour saw Dylan play keyboards, which is less hot than guitar, as everyone knows, and also, according to the Winnipeg Sun, Dylan wore leather pants. Which, y'know, not cool, Bob. Leather pants, if you're not actually riding a motorcycle, only put your judgment into question. That's all they do. So this is not to call Pat out for being wrong. He's probably right.
But it got me thinking, I might have a higher tolerance--or even preference for folks who don't sing right. Off tune, off beat, oh yeah, give it to me! And truthfully, there's a case to be made that these singers who aren't blessed with a naturally redolent voice are actually better singers than the ones who were mellifluous to begin with. To create something aesthetically pleasing out of something unpleasant is true craftsmanship, and I'll roll my eyes at anyone who says otherwise.
All of which is just preamble to praise Andre Ethier, who sometimes sounds so much like Bob Dylan that you almost think he's trying to be Leonard Cohen.
Last summer, when I was in Regina, Dave and I were catching up on good records that had come out since last we spoke, and Andre Ethier's On Blue Fog album was one of them. Any Andre Ethier album is a good one and will definitely scratch yr nu-Dillung fever, but still give you a lot more. An Andre Ethier album you might not know about, unless you live in Peterborough (which sounds like a made-up place--I've never met anyone from there), is Dear Stranger, which is actually a Silver Hearts album. The Silver Hearts are a big folk/country band from Ptrbrgh (it looks more authentic w/o vowels) who have made some albums of note (I do remember hearing about that Rain Dogs remake), but seemingly have not toured beyond their little corner of the country, despite playing country/western music. Go figure.
mp3: "Nothing Is Written In Stone" by Andre Ethier
mp3: "Last Real Poet" by the Silver Hearts
EDIT/UPDATE: mp3 link fixed
bonus mp3: "Last Days of Chez Nous" by the Silver Hearts (not an Ethier tune, but 100% worthwhile if you love cruel honkytonk break-up songs)