Under Review

Big Joe Burke

Quiver (YVR Records)

Review By Melissa Smith


It may be surprising to discover a quote by Lord Byron on a country album, but this is exactly what you will find on Quiver, the sophomore effort from Vancouver’s Big Joe Burke. As a follow-up to 2007’s debut Love or Money, you’ll still hear the honky-tonk that Burke does so well, but this time around it’s a bit lower key. Burke utilizes the stellar line-up from his first album with the versatile psychobilly musician Gord Smithers on guitar and fiddle, Pat Darcus on upright bass and acclaimed blues drummer Sandy Bone. It serves as a testament to the talented restraint of the supporting musicians involved that their outside influences are left at the studio door with the resulting sound being one that is alt-country dusted with a few folk influences.

Quiver contains 13 songs, nine of which are originals penned by Burke. Covers include material by Merle Haggard, Gordon Lightfoot and unexpectedly, the Beatles, which works surprisingly well. Burke’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” is a welcome addition to the disc as it’s a frequent staple of his live sets and a complete showstopper of a rendition. Why this man has not yet been scooped up by Nashville is one of life’s sweet mysteries. Either there is no justice in this world or he hasn’t yet been heard by someone with the power to make that happen. Let’s hope for the latter. [ed. Maybe he just likes Vancouver.]