“Take It Home” is Tom Cochrane’s first album in eight years, and for this one the singer looked southward for inspiration. Early influences like JJ Cale, The Band, Ry Cooder and Captain Beefheart colour each song on this album, and provide a starting point to a journey through life as told in music. Time and motion are themes that permeate the entire album: either looking forward, reflecting back or enjoying a moment.
The title track opens the album on an upbeat note, and sets the musical palette for the album. The second track “Sunday Afternoon Hang” debuted live last year, and is the closest to the classic Tom Cochrane vibe. A joyful celebration of the moment, it seems to encapsulate perfectly a hot summer afternoon spent with friends; it’s perfect to chase the winter blues away. It’s an upbeat little song whose feeling of happiness is contagious. It’ll have your bobbing your head, tapping your feet and singing along.
“Diamonds” is an old song he had written for his friends Bill Bell and Tara MacLean. In the end they never recorded it, and Bell, who co-produced the album, convinced Tom to record it. It’s the first single off the album, so that was a good call on his part.
The singer describes this album as a joyful record, and it is certainly true of the first third of the album. But it gets a little darker along the way too. “Pink Time” is the most somber song on the album: the story of a long-haul truck driver who pledges his support to his wife who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. A great song despite the difficult subject.
“The Ones That I’ve Known” is a heartfelt tribute to two heroes of Cochrane: Rosa Parks and her impact on the Civil Rights movement, and Terry Fox for his courageous fight against cancer, both for himself and for others. “A Prayer for Hope” is another quiet song that was written around the time of his last album (2006’s “No Stranger”) and explores his feelings after visiting Africa on an AIDS initiative.
The closer “Back in the Game” owes its origin to the music of the Continental Club in Austin where the singer owns a house, and is a foot-stomping romp full of life and energy. Backed by high caliber musicians (including his Red Rider mates), Tom Cochrane sounds inspired throughout the album, both musically and lyrically. In my interview with him, he mentioned that for him, there needs to be a spark and a purpose to creating music: he won’t create just for the sake of it. Well, clearly that urge to create was strong and meaningful for this album.
On the opening track “Can’t Stay Here”, Cochrane sings “I may not make it to Nashville but I can’t stay here.” This album is all about that journey; it is often introspective but always hopeful. This might just be the best album of his career, which is a debate you don’t often have about artists 40 years into their careers. Tom Cochrane is definitely back in the game. I loved this album.
Take it Home is out February 10 and can be streamed at the CBC’s website.
Jean-Frederic Vachon runs Diary of a Music Addict and is not interested in music detox.