David Solway’s Musical Debut: Blood Guitar and Other Tales

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PJ Media contributor David Solway, an award-winning Canadian poet and author, has revealed another side of his multiple talents. Solway the songster is now available on his new CD Blood Guitar and Other Tales (individual tracks available for download at CDBaby.com). It’s a stunning musical debut.

Blood Guitar offers thirteen gems with lyrics and music entirely created by Solway. Ably rendering his own compositions on voice and guitar, Solway is expertly backed up by Canadian musicians Ted Paull and Margaret Armstrong. I cannot too strongly recommend this musical stroll through essential issues of life.

In the extraordinarily poignant “So It Goes” Solway sings of “the silence in between the tick and tock….” Time is one of the main concerns of this set of songs. The other is love. How does one embark on new love when one has long been scarred by time and knows that it keeps “ticking in the heart” (“The Most of It”)? Taken together these songs are a vote in favor of love, of taking the leap of faith even if it means being “half-demented” (“Speaking Eyes”).

And yet, even though a couple of central motifs run through them, walking through these songs is like passing through a museum of very varied displays. Like straightforward love songs with sweet country-style melodies? There’s “I Live to Love You.” Looking for a black-comedic tour de force about man’s perplexities in dealing with woman? There’s “The Witch.”

And there’s the title song “Blood Guitar,” superficially happy-go-lucky even though “when you look beneath the hood, you see it’s not all good”: that is, that there’s something scary at the heart of life. And there’s “Rose of Time,” yet another take on the time theme, this one expressing the wistful wish that one’s lover had always been one’s own exclusively—and finally hinting that maybe, on a spiritual plane, that really is the case.

Solway the social commentator also makes an appearance in the first song of the collection, the very charming “Gananoque Lake.” It’s about a young man, an army veteran who is “hard as flint” and “thinks laziness a crime,” who does some yard work and thanks his temporary employer “for working me hard.”

As the song goes on to comment:

Well there’s no other way, to be a man

But labour all day, like Gananoque Dan

Don’t cheat or steal, or act like a crank

Put shoulder to wheel, and money in the bank.

The contrast with another sort of person couldn’t be greater:

And now I think, of that other bunch

Who Occupy things, and want a free lunch…

Those lyrics, by the way, are simple, supple, homespun, and yet very rich. That quatrain starting “Well there’s no other way” gives one of the bedrock truths that you have to internalize if you’re going to get anywhere in life. And in that regard, apart from their specific import, such words are representative of this whole trove of songs.

In them Solway the poet, winner of two prizes for collections of literary poetry, has applied his word-making wizardry to a more popular genre and succeeded wonderfully. You can do yourself a great favor by printing out and reading, or following on your android, these songs’ lyrics (available at the above-linked website) as you listen. They pass the ultimate test of inexhaustible richness and subtlety.

You won’t listen to this CD once, think “That’s nice,” and forget about it. A fine distillation of profound thought and emotion, it draws you in deeper and deeper. Not to be missed.