Joel Plaskett swept the East Coast Music Awards stage in a multiple of threes as…
- Posted on Dec 8th 2010 1:30PM by Tabassum Siddiqui
Perhaps the best touchstone to understand Tuck's work comes via fellow songsmith Jason Collett, who calls him "the real deal... Hands down, the greatest songwriter of my generation." Given that Tuck's rough-hewn yet poetic story-songs evoke Collett's own oeuvre right down to the Dylan-esque drawl and rootsy vibe, it makes sense that the pair share a mutual admiration ("brothers from another mother," as Tuck might say, recalling one of his earlier songs).
Collett even handpicked Tuck to open his recent solo acoustic tour across Canada, all the better to introduce audiences to the underrated singer's newly-released best-of collection issued by Halifax indie label Youth Club Records, aptly dubbed 'All-Time Favourites.' The disc pulls together some of the top tracks from Tuck's five-album career in the hopes of bringing his music to new ears -- while his uncompromising artistic vision and literary approach to songwriting has clearly brought him legions of admirers within the songwriting ranks, Tuck's scattershot approach to his music career has kept his work from being appreciated outside of the east coast scene.
His musical contemporaries and longtime fans alike are hoping 'All-Time Favourites' might help introduce Tuck's folk-influenced everyman tales to a wider audience -- it's likely the disc could catch on with fans of the alt-country strain of Canadiana practiced by the likes of Collett or any of the artists on the Six Shooter label roster, but the compilation's tracklist suffers somewhat from a dilatory tempo that doesn't let up through most of the album's dozen songs.
That's partly why lead track 'One Day the Warner' (from his 1994 debut 'Arhoolie') makes an immediate impact -- its jaunty, jangly melody proves the exception to the rule here, serving as a wry wink amidst all the seriousness. A biting observation on the parasitic major-label interest in the grunge-era Halifax indie scene, the tune is emblematic of Tuck's sardonic but keen writing style: "Everything in moderation / Including moderation," he sings, and one can almost picture the eye-roll inherent in the line.
The rollicking retro country-folk approach evokes an almost kitchen-party vibe (perhaps unsurprising given Tuck's east coast roots), with a chugging guitar line and kitchen-sink percussion (is that a washboard?). The dexterous lap steel-like guitar solo towards the end of the song is so effortless that it almost floats above the rhythm, suggesting that it's not just the writing part of the musical equation Tuck happens to excel at.
He might not have taken kindly to the "high and mighty" suits taking over his town that he sings about in the song, but then again, it's clear Al Tuck's a musician who has always marched to the sound of his own muse.