This is Newfoundland Ron Hynes’ posthumous album [passing in November, 2015] – having been ill two years before from throat cancer and then more recently in his hip and lungs, he will have had some notion of not seeing its launch, whilst evidently, from what I have read, he had been hopeful of being well enough for its release on the 30th January.
I only know his work from the 1993 album Cryers’ Paradise where the largely country folk songs and singing are very pleasant, this and his other eight solo albums earning him many accolades as one of Canada’s most popular and successful songwriters.
This album is, however, more than simply pleasant: self-penned bar one Dylan cover, the simplicity of performance with mainly Hynes’ singing and guitar playing, and the sweet song crafting, make it a deeply affecting listen. This is heightened by the vulnerability in his voice, not so much in volume or tone – both which seem fine – but in the slur, a frailty clearly the result of that throat cancer [he is reported to have said he had found trouble with speech as well]. Perhaps such a response is in the knowing of this effect and difference from his previous, but there seems to be such an honest thrust in the confidence of singing like this which dominates positively as you listen.
Opener Ship of Dreams is beautiful, and the song Marie about Canada’s first opera singer Georgina Stirling [stage name Marie Toulinguet] is rightly mentioned in other reviews as particularly pretty too.