GLEN HORNBLAST
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GLEN HORNBLAST

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Band Country Blues

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"GLEN HORNBLAST: ONCE IN A BLUE MOON"

GLEN HORNBLAST: ONCE IN A BLUE MOON
October 26, 2012 Author: Paul Corby
With a name as obstreperous as Glen Hornblast’s, you could be forgiven for expecting to hear a scallywag songster, full of roar and bombast. Longtime fans of traditional open stage circuits, however, know Glen as a compassionate and insightful songwriter, whose intensity resides in his careful phrasing and delivery, and in his dedication to song and to other song makers in both Toronto and Nashville.
His years of attention to the currencies of composition and melody that these communities trade in have resulted in his first song collection, released earlier this year at Winterfolk X. It’s entitled Once In A Blue Moon. The superlatives that apply to this record are not of the sort that usually invite hyperbole. Restraint, understatement, clarity: these tools, essential to communication, are hard to market in a world of instant opinion and supersized media appetites.
Even so, Hornblast has found big-time support in one of the most positive record reviews I’ve ever seen, in August’s issue of No Depression.
Sustained humility inherits wonders. As he sings, Glen Hornblast wears his vulnerability on both sleeves, but a penetrating nasal quality keeps a ridge of earnestness that delivers like an a.m. deejay, afloat upon David Baxter’s meticulous instrumental production. Even in speaking, his voice carries with it a measured tone of insistent and curious consideration. “What was the name of that award I won again?”
An urban rustic, Hornblast finds miracles and laments in the city’s darker streets. and especially in the characters stuck there on the cement. “Loretta,” “Homeless,” and “Mary” hinge on the risks of living too close to hard surfaces. He travels, to Paris in “Le Pont Des Arts,”, and to “Isla Mujeres,” and finds a universal home for his open-hearted empathy.
Hornblast’s approach to love songs is positively reverent as he exalts his beloved in the torchy “Evangeline” and on “River”, in which he confesses that the subject of his simile just “carries me away”.
Glen continues to explore the landscape of poetics and to develop new relationships within the world as a troubadour of compassion, romance and fellowship. His quest for the ringing moments of life recalls W.S. Merwin’s famous koan:
I will take with me the emptiness of my hands
What you do not have you find everywhere.

- MUSIC ROOTS CANADA (www.rootsmusic.ca)


"CD REVIEW: GLEN HORNBLAST - "\Once In A Blue Moon""

I received this CD recently from Toronto-based singer-songwriter Glen Hornblast. Usually, when I receive material in the mail and it’s a self-produced effort I assume it was probably recorded in someone’s basement or the artist mortgaged his house for the third time and ventured to the neighborhood recording studio -- more accustom to working with wedding photographers and school bands. But not this time.
Mr. Hornblast has a wonderfully produced sounding collection on his “Once In a Blue Moon.” But, I’m not surprised. I have yet to hear a Canadian artist I didn’t like. Canada has produced some great artists: Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Gordon Lightfoot, Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen, the McGarrigle Sisters, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Burton Cummings, and except for the late Levon Helm – the original parts of The Band were all Canadian. Then, there are some the United States just hasn’t noticed yet: Alfie Zappacosta, Paul Hyde and Ian Thomas -- now Glen Hornblast. He’s in good company and hopefully he will make a dent in our market.
What is particularly good about Glen is his voice. It has a distinct sound – and this is what sets him apart from many artists who sing well, write fairly good and sound like a million people that came before them. But, Glen can sing and write as good as the greatest from Canada and America as well. Glen – to my ears – is in that family of unique voices similar to John Prine, John Haitt, Peter Himmelman, Mickey Newbury, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Cat Stevens and a few select others who carved out a niche for themselves in originality and creativity.
The lead off track “True Blue Forever,” features some engaging male-female vocalizing. Reminiscent to me of the early 60’s style of arrangement for voice and melody. This would have been considered a plug side if released back then on a 45 rpm record. I think it’s a real cool slice of retro without being dated at all. The music is fresh, catchy and seems that it’s just a tip of the hat to another era. But that’s my interpretation and that’s where the nostalgia ends. Glen then shifts into high gear and he never looks back.
Glen’s music is a perfect blend of Americana. The track “Loretta” is excellent. A haunting melody with clever lyrics, lovely pedal steel and the accordion and violin are solid. Again, that lovely female vocalist adds to the sultry mood of this Tex-Mex style track. There’s humidity in the melody but the song is just so cool. Definitely something The Texas Tornados, Los Lobos or even the late Richard Manuel of The Band could have done. This is a first class effort. I fell in love with Loretta while listening. That’s good storytelling.
“Mary” reminds me of the excellent under-rated singer-songwriter Michael Dinner -- who only issued two albums back in the 70’s (“Tom Thumb the Dreamer” and “The Great Pretender”) with help from major artists like Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne. On this song Glen captures that warmth that Michael Dinner had as a storyteller.
It’s difficult to say for certain if Glen was influenced by any artists I mention because I don’t know Glen personally. It’s just the influential-feel I get from listening to this very attractive album.
It’s as if Glen invited you to his home to try something he cooked -- his own recipe. As you taste it you know you’re familiar with the cuisine but there are ingredients that Glen added that you just can’t put your finger on -- but they’re in there – and they have to be because it’s what gives it flavor. That’s what Glen is doing with his songs. Adding spices to an already established music style, filtering it through his own musical muse and the music somehow comes out sounding familiar….yet new….and, it does taste good.
Glen is also peppering (no pun intended) his material with a variety of styles which keeps the listening interesting throughout – and he does it successfully.
“Evangeline” reminds me of old world Parisian café songs with its accordion and moody trumpet.
I can’t emphasize more that Glen Hornblast does not soundlike any of these other artists I mention. It’s just a reference point for approach and style.
So, from a European flavored tune Glen slides easily into a rollicking harmonica driven track reminiscent of The Band – when they had help from The Staples Singers. “Freedom Train,” is Americana with soul. A down and dirty slide guitar and harmonica exchange smokes in this one. Glen’s voice is Marc Cohn – Jack Casady here and it’s like discovering a lost Hot Tuna or Little Feat song. Underneath all the action is this pumping piano worth trying to hear as it snakes its way through everything. It’s these little magical things like this that make many Glen Hornblast songs a pleasure.
Aside from the possible influences I cite Glen is good at his craft. So far, another wonderful item this album projects is the pacing of songs. If someone sat down and actually figured out the track order they did a good job.
The variety and musicianship are als - No Depression -The Roots Music Authority (by John Apice)


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Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Toronto singer-songwriter Glen Hornblast has finally released the CD his audience has long been awaiting. Entitled Once In A Blue Moon, the twelve-track album is an eclectic mix of Glen's best songs written over the last 30 years. Americana blog No Depression says: “Eventually, Glen will deserve to take his place among the best tunesmiths and lyricists of Canada.”

The songs range from folk to blues to country, with a smattering of tasteful jazz melodies. Hornblast's sweet and mellow sound reminds one of James Taylor or Jack Johnson - his voice floats over the melodies, weaving a magic spell as insightful as it is soothing, each word chosen very carefully.


"Folk music is all about telling stories", he says over a cup of cappuccino. "Songwriters are impossible dreamers trying to change the world with their songs. And sometimes it works."


Once In A Blue Moon is full of songs about real people and places: "Mary" is as touching a song about a homeless woman as you'll ever hear; "Freedom Train" is a raucous blues anthem about the underground railroad, inspired by a trip to the Memphis’ Martin Luther King Museum; and "Evangeline" is a light, breezy jazz-pop tune.


Somehow Hornblast manages to blend these influences together on Once In A Blue Moon resulting in a thoroughly enjoyable pot-pourri of well-crafted songs for the modern age. With first-rate production by David Baxter (Justin Rutledge, Treasa Levasseur), and featuring some of Toronto's best acoustic musicians, this is the kind of brilliantly written and perfectly executed album that only comes around once in a blue moon.

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