Can You Live Without

Guy Forsyth

Antone's / Sire Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


The more I get into this job, the more artists I get a chance to hear. And the more I hear, the more I'm getting convinced that another revival of folk music is just around the corner (even if it wouldn't be a commercially feasible idea, I'd be all for it). Artists like David Wilcox and James Keelaghan have all shown me that good folk music is alive, well and being practiced all around.

Now comes another artist who is carrying that torch - in more ways than one, judging by the album cover. Guy Forsyth's latest disc my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Can You Live Without is a surprisingly fresh approach to an old, classic sound to folk that is a wonderful thing to experience.

Just the sound of the album's opening track "Calico Girl" lets you know that whatever preconceived notion you had about this album is probably wrong. With the help of band members like percussionist "Mambo" John Treanor, bassist The Mighty Gil "T" and drummer Chris Searles just to name a few, Forsyth creates a mood that has one foot firmly planted in the roots of this music and the other in 1999.

With tracks like "New Monkey King," "If I Was Sick" and the title track, Forsyth starts to break Antone's out of the mold of being strictly a blues label and moves them into new territories. And while Forsyth's music can't be simply labeled as blues (or labeled at all, for that matter), there is a splash of the blues incorporated into his music that ties all the different styles together into one neat package.

The centerpiece of the album is "Heart Of Sawdust," a tale about losing grasp of one's past and the innocence of youth, and trying to look at an adult world through the eyes of a past childhood just one more time. It's a moving track, and one that reminds me a lot of the work of artists like Wilcox due to its touching, gentle beauty.

If Can You Live Without is guilty of anything, it's guilty of not having more moments like "Heart Of Sawdust" on it. It's not that tracks such as "Don't You Mind People Grinnin' In Your Face" or "Children Of Jack" are bad; it's just that they don't have as much staying power as "Heart Of Sawdust". If there were more tracks in this vein, I truly believe this would have been an unstoppable album.

Still, the 12 tracks on Can You Live Without are a pleasant enough way to spend the better part of an hour, and Forsyth impresses me as a musician and artist who has a very bright future ahead of him. It will be interesting to see if he takes the lessons of this album to heart; if he does, something tells me I'll be proclaiming his next album as the best of that year.

Rating: B+

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© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Antone's / Sire Records, and is used for informational purposes only.