Clive Holden w/ Jason Tait, Christine Fellows and John K. Samson
Trains of Winnipeg
This CD, paired with Holden’s breathtaking website, (www.trainsofwinnipeg.com), creates a multimedia project which is at once ambitious and yet so simple that it’s a wonder no other Canadian writer thought of it first (what with Canadian writers being so imaginative and all). By recalling inherently Canadian images—such as prairie winds, long and deserted highways, the ailing face of the late Al Purdy and, of course, cross-country trains—Nanaimo-born and Winnipeg-based poet Clive Holden has crafted an ode to the confluence of his personal and national identities.
Unfortunately, the album succumbs to the sometimes pretentious nature of poetry backed by music on many of the tracks, but the bone-jarring emotional impact of such tracks as “Death at Neepawa” and “Babette” more than atones for any shortcomings. Add to Holden’s power of imagery and sentiment the postmodern piano phrasings of Christine Fellows and the recognizably wistful tag-team guitar phrasings of Jason Tait and John K. Samson of The Weakerthans (all fellow Winnipeggers), and you get a potent mixture that is sometimes mysterious, sometimes sad, sometimes menacing, and sometimes even overwrought and schlocky, but almost always informative. It sheds light on the recesses of the human condition and, for better or worse, the Canadian Identity—as the country each person lives in is defined by what we make of it and do within it. If there is such a thing as positive and constructive patriotism, Clive Holden has committed it to this disc.