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Tanglefoot "Agnes On The Cowcatcher" Borealis BCD143

I must admit to relative ignorance when it comes to the history of Tanglefoot. I was, however, intrigued by both the title of the album, and by the photo of the band on the inside sleeve, containing more crimes against hairdressing than the early episodes of 'Starsky and Hutch'. Vidal Sassoon would have a heart attack. Anyway enough of that.

For the last twenty-two years or so Tanglefoot have been purveyors of Canadian folk songs, sounding like a cross between Coope Boyes and Simpson, and The Tannahill Weavers. All five gentlemen of the group are fine singers, and the lush harmonies are easy on the ear without ever becoming bland. All of the songs on this album are new compositions dealing largely with events from Canada's recent history. Indeed Tanglefoot were originally formed with the idea of 'giving Canadian school kids a much needed musical lesson in their homeland's history'. Songs such as Miners of Mercy tell of tale the impoverished miners, and the legion of women (Sisters of Mercy) who've worked hard to provide their families with education and healthcare since the 1800's. Each of the 14 tales is interesting and informative, sung with passion and conviction.

As for the title track, Agnes is the second wife of Canada's first Prime Minister, and a Cowcatcher is the series of metal bars on the front of a train. I'll leave it for you to discover just how these two unlikely elements make it onto the same song.

Keith Whitham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 49 of The Living Tradition magazine.