To Build a Fire
Impassioned, thought provoking and hard hitting folk songs
I was seriously taken by surprise by the opening track, as a Brass band eventually bleeds into a bit of mad electronica on the instrumental Mighty Damn Fine Animator; thankfully this is immediately followed by a stark and raw To Build a Fire; which is the Cam Penner I know and love as is the feedback infused Blues of No Consequence which will scare the pants off you.
The title track sounds vaguely Native American in origin as Penner stomps and screams above wailing guitars and a beatbox while he challenges his demons in an almost hypnotic fashion.
Immediately afterwards he slides seamlessly into what can only be described as a pure English Folk song with This Could Be Your Anthem; which is heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin in structure and is oddly quite brilliant.
The most commercial song on the album Memphis is vaguely political in content and bodes well for when it is performed in concert.
Apparently Cam hid himself away in a mountain cabin for 8 solid days to write the songs on TO BUILD A FIRE and you can feel that isolation come out in the exquisite Curiosity and the multi-layered instrumentation that surrounds his pleading vocal styling. This is a song that begs to be heard over and over again.
House of Liars has a deceptively pretty tune that hides a very dark song in the best traditions of Cam Penner.
This certainly isn’t to be filed under ‘Easy Listening’, as Cam Penner has had a well lived but troubled life and this comes through his songs in many different ways. Gasoline Summers is another song that borrows from the Native Americans and sounds like it carries a deep message; but I’m damned if I can tell you what it is!
Never one to rest on his laurels or make things easy for himself or the listener, Penner challenges you throughout the album with not only his lyrics and stories, but the actual music, which isn’t always easy on the ears but well worth persevering with.