Peter Goddard - Toronto Star
MUSICAL GROWTH RESULTS IN AN EXCELLENT DISC
There seems to be a time lag between what people think Gordon
Lightfoot's doing and what he thinks he's doing. And now, with
the release of his
latest album, Summertime Dream, it would appear that even his record
has been left behind.
His work over the past year has grown in stages, the most recent being
period when he consciously worked at writing pop songs such as
Sundown. It was as if Lightfoot, always a strong melodist, had
learned to fill out his previously spare songs with a more complex
texture, adding an extra dimension
to his work.
Several months ago, before the album was complete, Lightfoot intended
it Race Among The Ruins, a name taken from one of the songs. But
the interim he either changed his mind about the name, or was persuaded
change it. Yet while Summertime Dream is a sweetly evocative
enough name, it completely misses tha album's tone. The album is
not only among
the best he has ever released, it's also among the most important.
Summertime Dream however is an important departure from this
format. It's an extension of his pop work in a way, but it
represents something new
in his thinking. For this album, he seems to have been working
the texture itself, writing not just songs, but minature tone
poems. This is the first time, in fact, that he's produced an
album which must be
heard as a whole, that has several layers of meaning (both musical and
happening at once.
It's a sophisticated work but one, because of Lightfoot's discipline
of melody, that seems simple on the surface.
The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald is one example. Ostensibly the
is a part of the singer's ballad tradition. But where in the past
would merely have strung out the tale along a line of identical verses
choruses, here he evolves the story in a way that allows the music to
increasing tension from beginning to end. The song grows, and the
of forboding grows with it.
There are plenty of potential hits on the album, the title song and
Spanish Moss among them. But the LP offers much, much more than