Album review: Murray McLauchlan, Timberline (1983)


By Steve Newton

Just like a cold beer after a long jog, it’s nice to cool down with an earthy Murray McLauchlan album after hearing Ritchie Blackmore‘s latest blues bastardizations. And McLauchlan’s latest offering, Timberline, is just refreshing enough to do the trick.

A superb songwriter with an incredible knack for expressing emotion in as few words as possible, McLauchlan sings of restlessness (“Never Did Like That Train”), patriotism (“Out Past the Timberline”), nature (“Red River Flood”), and loneliness (“On the Subject of Loneliness”). The final verse of the later tune goes:

Small hours of the morning/How I wish it would rain/Give me something to think of/Instead of my pain/I look at your picture/And I whisper you name/And I hate you for leaving/’Til I love you again

Those who identify with the emotions of McLauchlan can’t help but be enriched by his experience–and way of telling it. Timberline fairly drips with such slice-of-life anecdotes, all of them brought into focus through McLauchlan’s own life and times. His openness and honesty is unmistakable.

On the instrumental side of things, McLauchlan plays keyboards, guitar, and harmonica, as well as singing lead, and he’s joined by Bucky Berger on drums and background vocals and Terry Wilkins on bass and background vocals. Their accompaniment is loose and flowing on the soft tunes, and tight when it has to be, as on the more upbeat tunes “Red River Flood” and “It Takes All Of My Time”.

For a variety of musical styles and lyrics of insight and wisdom, TImberline is strong Canadian product.



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