Bill Dowling
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Bill Dowling

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"Bill Dowling In The Wood"

Right from the first note, Bill dowling establishes himself as a lyrical, highly visual storyteller. Singing about a carpenter who "shaped the flesh of a tree into a guitar" on the title track, Dowling has that innate ability of a folksinger to be able to pen seemingly simple songs that deeply resonate with a listener. He's also one hell of a guitar picker. While In The Wood occasionally has a little too much twang for this writer, this is a pretty, bare-bones collection of songs that have a rare organic feel to them - almost as thoughDowling had simply picked up an acoustic guitar at a campfire and someone happened to be there to capture it. JZ - Uptown Magazine


In The Wood (2008)
produced by Dan Donahue at Lion's Den Studio
Winnipeg MB



The thing that gets people about Bill Dowling’s debut album In The Wood is that it takes you by surprise. Bill’s this songwriter in the “folk and country tradition”, right? Okay, so you’re expecting “folk” songs, but then tunes like ‘Three” rock yer ass. Or you’re expecting all serious ballads, and then he hits you with the jazzy, off the wall weirdness of ‘Werewolves of Hollywood’. Not that he doesn’t deliver on these other promises as well; ‘Papertown’ is about as heartfelt a ballad as you can get, capturing the helplessness felt in a northern town with a crashing economy. But the quality of the writing and the production on this set of tunes (recorded at Juno Award winner Dan Donahue’s Lions den Studio) is outstanding.

The thing is, Bill’s been around awhile; just not necessarily making music. He spent a lot of his life soaking up all kinds of musical traditions that were floating in the air through the ‘60’s on in Winnipeg, where he grew up. And he did all kinds of things, from all night coffee shops to meat packers to soul killing desk jobs to academia. So what he ended up with was an ear to listen, and all these characters and voices, combined with the diverse musical palate to give them all life.

So, yeah, you’re gonna get the love songs, but they’re quirky, with a sense of the reality that love asks of us all. But then you’ve got the story of the luthier teaching a young boy a trade he in turn will pass on to the next generation, and the the young man trying to cope after Iraq, and the weirdness of the Bush years, or the mystic wonder of watching the northern lights.

So, yeah, “folk and country tradition” isn’t wrong. Just keep an open mind, that’s all.