Street Sounds: Folk troubadour remains relevant

Valdy's Read Between the Lines finds the veteran B.C. troubadour in fine topical form.

Valdy joins his Contenders’ stage-mate

Valdy joins his Contenders’ stage-mate

B.C. folk music legend Valdy’s 18th album, Read Between the Lines, finds the veteran troubadour in fine topical form, moving between political reporting, historical events and good time humorous songs with excursions into his own past.

It has been a long, strange trip and Valdy’s voice sounds unchanged –– 1970 could have been last year.

His rich, friendly voice is an upbeat presence; part social/political commentator and part court jester. As such, he’s had a storied career, beloved of folkies, but made famous by a song now steeped in classic rock annals (Play Me a Rock and Roll Song).

Valdy’s Pete Seeger-style narratives of activism, death and community (The Day They Shot Ginger Down) don’t get gloomy.  He could easily have a second career as a humourist!  His patented story-songs and sassy word play add levity to weighty topics like religion and environmentalism (Savings Place, It’s the Water).

Musically, Valdy branches out past acoustic settings, bringing in horn sections and keyboards on many tracks. Several songs are electric in nature, moving into a little heard mid-’70s country rock vibe complete with gang vocals (Mean Mama, VLT).

Valdy keeps the hootenanny spirit close to his heart and mixes his stories with an engaging folk-rap delivery (Mind’s Eye). Further elements of country rock a la Kenny Rogers are heard in As The Waters Fall.

Who said being a folksinger means being mired in seriousness?

Dean Gordon-Smith is The Morning Star’s longtime music reviewer. His column, Street Sounds, appears every Friday.