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melwood cutlery

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Roots

Melwood Cutlery

Campfire (Borealis Records)

For decades Cutlery has been a mysterious, hip presence on the fringes of Canadian independent pop and alternative rock, emerging occasionally in different guises with his own cagey and impressive work, then disappearing again into the shadows, providing his services to other artists as a session musician, vocalist for hire and producer. On this outing, and having moved to Toronto, he has reinvented himself as a rustic parlour singer of sorts, or as a bearded bare-footed composer of eminently tuneful, curiously simple, delightfully wise and whimsical ballads and country-rock songs that have a familiar retro appeal. They manage to evoke a at different times Steve Goodman, Jerry Jeff Walker, Stephen Foster, The Byrds with Gram Parsons, The Band and the Travelling Wilburys, without ever sounding like conscious cops. Too cleverly polished to fit comfortably in the folk/roots bag - a pointed indictment of government mishandling of the contaminated water crisis in the protest ballad "Walkerton" notwithstanding - and too personal and homespun to pass as alt.country - "Last Lullaby" and "Loon on the Lake" are pastoral prayers that could well easse themselves into the traditional repertoire _ Campfire   is a colorful hybrid that benefits from contributions from Canadian folk/roots veterans Lynn Miles, Jenny Whiteley, David Francey, Terry Tufts and Bill Garret, among others, but remains defiantly the work of one eccentric genius.

Greg Quill   | Thursday, May 19, 2005   | Toronto Star
- Greg Quill


Campfire ***1/2
Melwood Cutlery (Borealis)

Boasting one of the most recognizable voices on the
Canadian roots scene, Ottawa native Melwood Cutlery
works his usual magic on everthing from country to
roots-rock on "Campfire". He echoes Gram Parsons on
one tune, Procol Harum on another. Yodels, and good
ones at that, dot the disc. Jazzy piano and ballads
crop up elsewhere.
Song topics range just as widely, from Cutlery's
gorgeous ode to summer, "Loon on the Lake", to the
powerful political indictment of "Walkerton".
Somehow, like a night around the campfire with
friends, the elements all gel. Cutlery, now living in
Toronto, travelled home to record "Campfire", which
features such Ottawa musicians as Fred Guignon and
Danny Artuso, Lynn Miles, David Francey and other
notables sing backup.
Cutlery plays the Black Sheep Inn in Wakefield Friday.

Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen | MAY 14, 2005 - Patrick Langston


This Canadian treasure is finally available in the states with this release. He has long been know in Canada, but for some reason he has not made much of a dent in the US, and this has been our loss. His blended mixture of blues, folk, jazzy timings, country with a bit of yodeling thrown in, places this CD in a nicely blended category. His playing is mostly blues based, with touches of the other modes of music carefully placed to heighten the interest that each song has. He is the writer of all 14 songs on this disc, and some of them are gems, both in language and music interest. He co-produced the disc with Bill Garrett, and it is a disc that holds interest and has some very strong moments of aural joy. He has assembled an excellent group of "Campfire" musicians that enhance this project and get to show off their individual talents without ever taking anything from it. He has a quiet and wry sense of humor and it comes through when you hear the songs. There is a very Canadian feel to the disc, no it doesn't reflect the Great White Cold, however there are references to Canadian places and customs, much as the John Hiatt talks of "Going down to Memphis," and all the implied background and history there. This is a good starter disc if you have never heard him, and a welcome step forward in his career

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb
- Bob Gottlieb


MELWOOD CUTLERY Campfire (Borealis) Rating: NNNN

Melwood Cutlery may sound like some chi-chi Yorkville store, but I can assure you he's actually a living, breathing human, and that his latest release, Campfire, may just be the best folk album you've never heard. Blessed with a voice so like fellow Canuck Gordon Lightfoot's that you'd swear they were related, and with phrasing and delivery not unlike Dylan's, he's the kind of artist you're sure you've heard of before you tear the wrapper off the jewel case. From the propulsive beat of Too Stoned and the jazzy Moonlight Motel to the mellow candour of Jimmy's Room and Walkerton, Campfire is a near perfect set. Jenny Whiteley and David Francey add some backing vocals, harmonizing wonderfully with Cutlery, but his voice and song arrangements are so powerful you hardly notice. He's that good.

Cutlery plays Hugh's Room Wednesday (May 18).
Brent Raynor
NOW | MAY 12 - 18, 2005 | VOL. 24 NO. 37
- Brent Raynor


Campfire
This album is striking foremost for the achingly good song "I Wonder." It has all the pop appeal of a Lennon-McCartney composition, done in Cutlery's laid-back country style. Its appeal hearkens way back to stuff the Travelling Wilburys did in the '80s, with Roy Orbison crooning alongside George Harrison and Bob Dylan. It appears amidst an ambling set of almost eerily referenced songs. "Moonlight Motel" feels like a restrained take on Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits, with a jazzy atmosphere and tons of underlying menace while "Aeroplane" jogs into Velvet Underground territory. But it's all assembled around a tightly woven style of roots country played impeccably by his backing band and recorded at Ottawa's venerable Little Bullhorn Studios where engineer Dave Draves did wonders for Kathleen Edwards. Cutlery is another Ottawa native done good.

Jeremy Milks | Ottawa Xpress | July 21st, 2005 - Jeremy Milks


The title is very telling, but it’s really just a metaphor. There’s far more to "Campfire" than sing-along guitar ballads about pine trees and canoes, but the tracks offered by this CD do have a tone and style that is reminiscent of nights spent sitting with friends at the cottage. Sweet, soulful and sincere, Melwood Cutlery’s tunes make it difficult not to tap your feet and sing along.
With a voice that’s reminiscent of Bob Dylan or James Taylor, and a style that mirrors that of The Traveling Wilburys, Cutlery combines profound sensitivity with a playful sense of humour. All tracks are of his own creation, and speak of everything from the Walkerton water scandal to lonely travelers, to mystical locales with unusual occupants. Most memorable is Moonlight Motel, which has an almost mythical, surreal quality. Perhaps the only quintessential “camp fire” tune on the CD is Loon on the Lake, which is definitely Canadian in content. Cutlery’s voice may not be particularly pretty, but it is comforting in a sort of familiar way, and possesses as much character as the tales told in the songs.
Instrumentally, the CD sticks to the “simpler is better” philosophy. However, this in no way means that arrangements are dull or ineffective. Ballad of the Moonlight Lady, Makin’ the Music, and Aeroplane showcase Cutlery’s piano talent. Tracks such as I Wonder feature impressive guitar solos. There are ballads, and country tunes, and honky-tonk tracks, spanning the full range of the folk spectrum.
In Melwood Cutlery’s estimation, "Campfire" is more than just a musical style, it’s a state of mind. The songs on this CD are sometimes joyful, sometimes mournful, and sometimes haunting. They all, however, possess a unique singable quality and a sense of humour, just as one would expect from tunes played round the campfire. Even without the lake, the toasted marshmallows and the mosquitoes, the stories told through Cutlery’s music encourage listeners to wax nostalgic.
 
Reviewed By: Amy Leask - Monkeybiz
Review Date: 2005-05-09
- Amy Leask


Every guy with a guitar singing folkish kinda country tunes hates to be compared to Bob Dylan. But hey, tough pal! There is a twinge of Bob and a smidge of Tom Petty, heck, Melwood could have easily fit into the Traveling Wilburys. The songwriting is as rich, the melodies as strong and the voice as true as anything the supergroup has released. In fact with such a stellar cast of Canadian country folks guesting - Lynn Miles, Jenny Whiteley, David Francey, Terry Tufts, and Taylor Floodgate - Melwood leads a supergroup of his own complete with a solid studio and road worthy crew. Every now and then a disc comes along from a mainstay artist that is more than just a recording for recording's sake. Though a year in the making, 'Campfire' has the feel of an album that was made for a reason by like-minded artists with an understanding of where the songwriter was coming from. This disc will be a lasting one for Melwood Cutlery.

- Chris Martin

Penguin Eggs Issue No.26
- Chris Martin


Discography

2005, campfire, borealis records, airplay- aeroplane, ballad of the moonlight lady, loon on the lake, jimmys room
2001, if it rains
1995, overstepping the boundaries
1989, imagination
1985, three vows ep

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Bio

I opened for steve goodman the year before he died, travelled long and hard, in Canada from coast to coast, and into the states, my latest album,"Campfire," is a collection of songs written in the heartland of Ontario, the "land of the lakes," live show includes stories and banter, the occassional yodel and a few dance steps, likes the music of, cousin joe, don walser, fats domino, the band, bob dylan, john prine, steve earle, willie nelson, dwight yoakum, gordon lightfoot, neil young, tom waits, jimmy rogers, hank williams, stompin tom connors, many more blues and rock 'n roll artists