Toronto singer/songwriter Cheryl Thibideau is an unabashed old school country devotee.
On her second album, recorded in Toronto and Nashville, she sings of dancing to an Anne Murray song. That’s something most people won’t do or admit to doing. But Thibideau is a romantic and her music is as lush as the dress she wears on the disc sleeve – she also releases vinyl along with her discs.
Thibideau and her co-writer/producer, Doug Romanow, have crafted a deep twanging sound that is firmly based in early ‘60s Nashville. It’s clear that the singer has an affinity for Patsy Cline – her arrangements reflect that long gone star’s classic, “aw shucks” lyric honesty.
My Heart Still Remembers wisely hedges its old school pedal steel sounds with love songs. Thibideau’s voice is suited to small town vignettes and cheerful spins on clever country clichés. Her ear for sounds drenched in rhinestone and silk give way to several duets done in the call-and-response harmony style favoured decades ago.
The feel of the songs is an uncanny journey 50 years back while lingering for awhile in swinging London before touching down in Tennessee (Unless You Care). Her cover of Buffy St. Marie’s Until It’s Time for You to Go is faithful and sweet, benefiting from Thibideau’s restrained rendition.
The duets take the direction back to the hayride – it’s cowboy hats, boots, checkered dresses and ponytails, sort of.
Thibideau’s precise phrasing style makes for cozying up to her vocal buds an easy ride. Canadian country heroes Ian Tyson and Johnny Burke supply some Northern git-down twang and all is well and easy.
The only glitch in this short player is a cheesy medley of Oh Canada/This Land; the beat and steel guitars smack of karaoke at the bingo hall. Oh well, press “fast forward” on that. Otherwise, there’s much in the way of simple pleasures and early country music sounds, delivered by a true believer.
— Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon, B.C. musician and freelance writer who reviews the latest releases for The Morning Star every Friday.