OLD MAN LUEDECKE
Reviewing Hinterland by Old Man Luedecke – aka Chris Luedecke – for Sing Out! magazine in 2006, I noted that his banjo style was “picked up from old records by Dock Boggs, Bascom Lamar Lunsford and others of that ilk, but that “he writes lyrics like a keen-eyed observer of his own time and place.”
Indeed, Chris has continued to wed tried and true folk music styles – in addition to banjo, he now writes and plays many of his songs on guitar – with well-crafted, incisive lyrics and I think his latest album, Domestic Eccentric, is his best yet. He recorded the album at home in Chester, Nova Scotia and almost all of it is performed front-porch style with the always great Tim O’Brien as his principal collaborator.
There’s a theme to most of these songs – all of them original compositions – and it’s easily gleaned from the album title, Domestic Eccentric. These are songs about home life and family and about missing that home life and family while he’s away plying his trade as a touring musician.
He begins the album with the clever “Yodelady,” a clever play on the words ‘yodel,’ ‘lady’ and a slangy phrase that would say ‘you’re the lady’ in more proper English. “Yodelady,” is also a love song for Chris’ wife, the mother of his children, which he first recorded on Mole in the Ground, his first EP from 2003 – the release that announced Old Man Luedecke as one of Canada’s most promising new folk artists.
Other love songs include “The Girl in the Pearl Earring,” an absolutely lovely song that compares the object of his affection to the subject of the Vermeer painting of the same name; and “Old Highway of Love,” about the dedication essential to making love endure.
The album’s best song – which I think will endure as a classic for decades to come – is “The Early Days,” a homage to the all-too-brief, fleeting years when one’s children are small. With a beautiful melody and irresistible chorus, Chris sings of specific memories of his own small children that are almost universal memories for all parents.
Other highlights include “Chester Boat Song,” a tribute to a Vietnam War-era draft resistor who became a boat builder in the Nova Scotia village where Chris lives, and “The Briar and the Rose,” in which he seems to step outside of himself to write from an old man’s perspective – hey, he is Old Man Luedecke – about a lifetime’s love.
Pictured: Mike Regenstreif and Old Man Luedecke at the Ottawa Grassroots Festival, April 25, 2015.