Original, topical songs about Canada’s identity and heritage. www.jamesgordon.ca
James Gordon has had a remarkably diverse 30-year career in the Canadian entertainment business. As a solo singer-songwriter and with the ground-breaking trio Tamarack, he has released over thirty-five albums, and has toured relentlessly around the world.
Gordon has written for symphony orchestras, musical theatre and dance works, film scores, and for more than ten years was heard on CBC radio as songwriter-in-residence for the ‘Basic Black” and “Ontario Morning” programs. His songs have been recorded and performed by such varied acts as The Cowboy Junkies, Melanie Doane, Al Simmons, James Keelaghan, the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, and many major choirs. His song “Mining For Gold” was featured in John Sayles film “Silver City.” Gordon’s classic “Frobisher Bay” has been recorded by more than 100 different acts world-wide and was an audition piece on CTV’s “Canadian Idol”.
His most ambitious work, the full-length folk opera “Hardscrabble Road” debuted live in the fall of 2003, and was released in June ‘05 on Pipe Street Records. Gordon has produced Cds for many Canadian folk artists, and his popular “Rhyme Capsules” songwriting-in-the-schools project has resulted in over two dozen CDs of songs by young composers.
James spent the last two years touring the country with his hugely successful one-man musical “Stephen Harper: The Musical”. ( It worked.) James has been a staple in the centrefold of the Canadian Songwriter scene for 30 years, and he’s excited to return to it now with this compelling new collection of songs that reflect where he’s been and point to where he is going musically.
His latest album “Sunny Jim” for Borealis may be James’ strongest yet and only goes to prove that this talented artist only keeps getting better and better.
“James Gordon might be best known for being one of the founding members of the Canadian group Tamarack and having his song “Mining for Gold” covered by The Cowboy Junkies on the Trinity Sessions. Since leaving Tamarack he’s made a name for himself as a solo performer and as a writer of topical songs for the CBC. This two-disc collection is divided between 19 songs he recorded with Tamarack (including a couple he re-recorded) and 19 songs taken from his solo recordings. Gordon draws upon Canadian history for much of his subject material. He’s also a keen observer of people and uses many real-life experiences in his writing. He writes a a nice melody and his backing usually includes tasteful use of bass and drums as well as mandolins, whistles, violin, and the like. While 38 songs might seem somewhat overwhelming, Gordon’s songwriting is strong enough to warrant such an ambitious release.”
“Canada hosts an abundant share of great singer-songwriters. One of the most Canadian to my ears is James Gordon. Nearly all of his songs involve Canadian history, contemporary life in Canada, or just plain being in love in Canada. Gordon does his country justice, and I suspect many of his songs may pass into tradition, which is high praise for a contemporary songwriter. Mining For Gold is a 2-disc, 20-song retrospective of Gordon’s career. Disc one chronicles his final decade with the trio Tamarack, and disc two concentrates on his solo efforts, although nothing from his most recent CD, nor his humorous/satirical songs. The set also contains two newly recorded songs, and one previously unavailable song. This collection is definitely 24-carat. Gordon’s songs on the first CD tell of sailing, fishing, mining, whaling, being a cowboy and the lives of the pioneers. He knows how to sing a story, spin a yarn, and reel you into the heart of his songs. You feel you’ve journeyed with his characters, endured their hardships, and shared their simple joys. The zesty Tamarack arrangements add to the energy and interest of the songs, with fine musicianship from Alex Sinclair and assorted guest musicians.
Disc two holds Gordon’s more personal songs of his own Canadian journeys. It contains a terrific protest song “Back Before Wal-Mart,” about the destruction of small-town life by the mega-chain that obliterates all small business in its path. While the first disc is acoustic, the second disc rocks where appropriate, showcasing a wider range of sound and style. Most of his songs bout people are about real people from stories their friends or relatives told him. Think of Mining for Gold as 38 short stories that offer something of a lesson in Canadian history, and the life of some of the country’s citizens, including one James Gordon. This is a book you definitely want to read, or in this case listen to.”
R Warr, Sing Out!