MERCY OR SIN
Gordie Tentrees is a man of the Canadian north. This Yukon-based singer uses that fact to create some haunting roots music, and some very upbeat efforts too.
Whether tapping your toes to Same Old Blues, or feeling the emotion of the title cut Mercy or Sin, Tentrees does a smooth job of controlling the mood of the music, and of the listener.
Tentrees offers up a style that is part folk, parts roots, and part country. It is music with a rather broad appeal in that regard. There are cuts here which are solidly country music ready, and some all would be at home in any folkie's collection. In terms of a song ready for county radio, a station would do well to spin out Blue Motel Room. It's the kind of song which country needs to break out of the stagnation is seems mired in.
The instrumentation is rather bluegrass, with the upright bass playing a prominent role on several cuts.
Vocally, at times there is just a hint of Bob Dylan in Tentrees. That isn't a bad comparison. There are also elements of Corb Lund here. Again not bad at all.
The key for Tentrees is the relaxed way he addresses the microphone. He comes at it like an old pro who knows he can attract an audience by just letting his voice be natural. There is a feeling he's singing at the kitchen table, not in a studio. That is a special talent to pull that off.
Of course you should expect some polish from Tentrees who released 29 Loads of Freight in 2004, and in 2007 came back with Bottleneck of Wire. Mercy or Sin becomes his third full-length effort and that means just based on experience most of the rough edges should be smoothed away.
Lyrically, Tentrees is a storyteller in the grandest tradition. There are truly sad stories here, such is the case with Ross River, perhaps the most powerful cut here.
There are also more upbeat tales woven through the songs. Tentrees knows about balance, and it shows in his song selection.
This is a CD that impresses on many levels and is one which any roots country fan must look out for.
Check it out at www.tentrees.ca
-- CALVIN DANIELS
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Sept. 30, 2009 - Yorkton, SK. Canada