Gord Downie, the Sadies, and the Conquering Sun; Doug Paisley | Lincoln Hall | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Gord Downie, the Sadies, and the Conquering Sun; Doug Paisley Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Image

When: Sat., May 10, 9 p.m. 2014

Mild-mannered Toronto singer Doug Paisley has depths below the surface, applying a sharp craftsmanship to his delicate, soft-edged melodies and making them memorable with his low-key charm. His new album, Strong Feelings (No Quarter), proves him to be one of the most talented songwriters currently working—it evokes the melodic splendor and narrative sophistication of Gordon Lightfoot’s best material with a touch of the gentle tunefulness of early-70s Dylan. Many of the songs on Paisley’s new record are about relationships, but he often takes them in existential directions, albeit with a refreshingly accessible, everyday approach. “Song My Love Can Sing” is a meditation on living in the moment, or rather failing to do so—Paisley laments that he can’t let out all his feelings for the woman sleeping in his bed, not just because he’s thinking about a past love but because his emotional paralysis runs much deeper. The narrator of “Old Times” directly confronts his ghosts: “If it takes a waterfall to drown all my doubts / Sometimes it takes a lie to let me know what it’s all about.” Paisley also sings a couple straight-up tender love songs, and the Crazy Horse-grade stomp of “To & Fro” celebrates the wild landscape of Canada’s plains. He’s a terrific lyricist, but his tunes are even more seductive—and as usual he’s put together a killer band to play his airy, refined arrangements, including keyboardist Garth Hudson (the Band), guitarist Emmett Kelly (Cairo Gang), and singer Mary Margaret O’Hara. Tonight, however, Paisley performs solo. —Peter Margasak

Price: $20

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