For those who aren’t hip to what’s happening here, Old Man Luedecke is the nom de plum of banjo-playing Nova Scotian Chris Luedecke, who’s scored a pair of Canadian music awards and widespread critical acclaim since he started recording his unique brand of old-time music back in 2003.
Luedecke’s modern sense of humor combined with his reverence for the most traditional of sounds remains his calling card as he launches this 14-song set (his fourth with True North and seventh overall) with the foot-stomping “Yodelady” (as in “yo da lady of my dreams”).
“You can’t fake a work of heart,” he says on the second song of the set, the home-by-the-fire feature called “The Girl In The Pearl Earring.” The opening chime of “The Briar and the Rose” calls to mind early versions of “Darcy Farrow,” the charming Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell song of love first recorded by Ian & Sylvia (though Ian & Sylvia never sang the line “I was thorny, I was young and horny” as near as we can tell from our research.)
“Conditions of success, have left us now with less,” he sings on “Low On the Hog,” his ode to sanctioned simple living while “Old High Way of Love” finds Luedecke and his foil throughout, multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien, firing up the a capella harmonies. Other highlights include the cultivated tenderness of “Now We Got A Kitchen,” the snazzy jig of “Year of the Dragon” and the modern-day problems of “Hate What I Say.”
Fans of the “old man” will find this one as satisfying as his best known work; newcomers will be charmed by this lyrically modern take on old-time music.