Ken Dunn – Anthology, Volume 1
On this 20-song set, Canadian folk artist Ken Dunn (acoustic guitar/electric guitar) re-introduces himself with 20 songs from his first 25-years. It may be a hefty load for some, but it’s worth excavating. The songs never drag, aren’t preachy with any political motive, or bombastic overtures. Some live tracks sound as if they were recorded in a studio, the quality is impressive.
With a little patience, a listener unfamiliar with this troubadour will get a good introduction to his repertoire.
In 2000 Ken took classical music (provided by The Good Friday String Quartet) & cooked up a stew of folk-rock in a string quartet environment, creating a meaningful & classically flavored showcase. Various songs will exemplify this as you travel this album’s musical highway.
“If You’re Lost,” leads off powerfully with Ken & songstress Denny Kennedy to prove how worthy this union of music & vocals is. Yes, it’s been done to a lesser degree by Steeleye Span, Pentangle, Magna Carta, & the late English folk singer David McWilliams (“Marlena”) but it’s all about ingenuity, approach & avoiding the pretentious pitfalls.
On the cello-deep, beautifully rendered “One Last Question” Ken’s voice slips into a folksier Neil Young tone. Acoustic folk with classical satiny strings nicely performed. It’s even better than any recent Neil Young efforts.
This anthology features the folk-rock Gypsy Starfish, duets with Anna Green Denny Kennedy.
Anthology, Volume 1 (Drops Feb 1–Trespass) is a mix of poignant folk tunes, toe-tappers, storytelling, & sizzling fiddle with Tyler Beckett. It’s a showcase Ken balanced over his career. Most songs are from various LPs. Live efforts, rarities, previously unreleased, but it’s all worthy of a memorable performer. The anthology is a cohesive package.
While Dunn takes up a folk stance he never performs heavy-handed with an air of gravel & dust, gloom & doom, with road-weary folkie affirmations. He uses his vocal with sincerity, good musical instincts & a diverse ability to sound interesting or at least not redundant. Like that cool professor, you had once who wore jeans in class.
“Fukushima Nightmares,” has a lovely Anna Green harmony vocal, Dean Drouillard’s guitar & Drew McIvor’s haunting organ that creates a truly exemplary track.
Dunn changes vocal tone to keep songs diversified such as “Forsaken By These Blues.” Acoustic guitar/harmonica by Ken, swampy guitar by Dean, harmony vocals by Anna & Randy Martin (bass) with pounding deep drums by Mark Mariash. An entertaining piece.
The songs are from varied LPs, years. So I’m not certain how that qualifies it as one of the best for 2022. But it is. It’s consistent & the songs still sound fresh.
Not a bad tune in the mixed bag.
Photo courtesy: Ken Dunn’s website. The 1-hour-16-minute CD available @ Bandcamp + https://kendunnmusic.com/home