Why doesn't Toronto's Bruce Cockburn have the same high-level critical reputation and midlevel cult following as Richard Thompson? After all, they're both dazzling, Celtic-Islamic rock guitar pickers and the writers of vivid if gloomy songs which they deliver in foggy baritones. The big difference is Cockburn's left-wing Christianity, which can be as unrelentingly earnest as Bono's. Cockburn lightens up a little bit on The Charity of Night
; he adds Laurie Anderson-like, film noir monologs to four songs and allows nakedly romantic feelings to emerge in two quietly pretty love songs. The prominent presence of bassist Rob Wasserman and vibist Gary Burton give a jazzy elasticity to Cockburn's usual folk rock. Cockburn's reputation among his fellow musicians is reflected in guest appearances by Bonnie Raitt, Bob Weir, Patty Larkin, Ani DiFranco, and Jonatha Brooke--maybe the public will catch up this time around. --Geoffrey Himes
From the Label
Imagery of night and darkness, shadow and storm pervades Bruce Cockburns twenty-third album (and first on Rykodisc), The Charity of Night. Held in high regard for his poetic, innovative, often provocative songwriting, Cockburns lyrical introspection sometimes leads him to the more secret corridors of the heart and soul. He also believes that, on this album, he is at something of a turning point. For a man with thirteen gold and three platinum records in Canada, as well as ten Juno Awards (the Canadian counterpart to the Grammy), thats quite an assertion.