Last Winter is the fifth solo effort from Blue Rodeo co-frontman Greg Keelor, and it is surprising in its tone and artistry. Blue Rodeo fans, please set your yearning for that classic country-rock sound aside, for this recording is different.
Clocking in at around 34 minutes, this four-song EP is full of deep thoughts and slow grooves. Keelor has fashioned an intensely personal suite of songs here, and has rendered his vision with the help of his musical collaborator, the former child prodigy multi-instrumentalist (and member of The Sheepdogs), Jim Bowskill.
Keelor describes the tunes on Last Winter as being “quiet, meditative, yogic songs”, and this is certainly accurate. In lyrical content, production and melody, one is struck by the hypnotic beauty of each track. Starting with the contemplative “Gord’s Tune”, Keelor honours the late Gord Downie. With thematic and lyrical allusions to The Tragically Hip’s “Bobcaygeon”, this song is alternately abstract and journalistic – a sentimental tribute to the late singer.
Pensive reflection sums up the bulk of this work, from the sweet spellbinding feel of “City Is A Symphony”, to the shimmering strings and Indian raga-inspired sections of “3 Coffins”. With such a departure from Keelor’s regular band sound, one might imagine an A&R rep saying, “I don’t hear a single.” But that’s not really the point. With Last Winter, Greg Keelor has given us a glimpse into his soul, as he plunges into the beauty, art and power of song.