Album of the Year: Fear Not


Sometimes music can surprise you when you least expect it to... and so it goes that my family and I were driving home from our Christmas visit in Akron, Ohio and I was bored out of my mind on Interstate 80 -- somewhere in the middle of snow-covered Pennsylvania -- when I decided to play a CD from the Michigan-based singer-songwriter Cameron Blake. What is this, I thought? Rufus Wainwright's twin or Scott Walker's protégé, or Tim Hardin's ghost or... you get my musical reference drift, oui? Somewhat lazy, but a starting point. Yet, he is his own poet. And that voice, like Matt Wilson of Semisonic/Trip Shakespeare, or Tim Buckley, clear and pristine tenor, riding his melodies effortlessly. Damn, I wish I had his voice. What it could do with my songs, but alas it is his and his alone and I am thankful that I have found it before the end of 2017 and that I can carry it with me into the optimism of 2018.

And his songs make your mind soar, soar all over our uncharted landscape. Yes, these 12  songs are profound. And require repeated listens to allow their poetry to sink in. And I will take his songs and his voice and his undeniable gift and I will use his artistry to fill my half-empty cup and toast this new year, toast the beauty of life with all of its seemingly impossible obstacles. And that is what a true singer/songwriter can deliver -- optimism for the future, respite from the pain, longing for the simplicity that we all strive to maintain, away from the hostilities that try to consume us.

Find the joy in your heart, like Mr. Blake's empathetic music on Fear Not. For it is a place to be, a place to explore, a place to find peace.