I Used to Work
Over 40-somethings drop great new CD 'I Used to Work' on eagerly awaiting fans By Suzy Miller Peter Mandic Band is led by Peter and includes Paul McKeracher on bass, George Douglas on mandolin and J. Bruce Walton on percussion, harmonica and backing vocals. If you want to start a conversation about what is current with 'Baby Boomers', this CD will work for you. The songs are written with the wisdom that comes from living a full life and looking at the world with a kind, thought-provoking and almost back-looking view. Peter Mandic wrote all the songs but '8 Guitars' a co-write with Mario Panacci, "Razor Wire" a co-write with Wayne Carlson and 'You Went Away' by Steve Moore. The songwriting is what stands out and makes this CD so gripping; in every song there are real gems of thought put to music. And to find an artist comfortable enough in his own skin to honour other songwriters is refreshing. The song placement takes you on a musical ride that starts off nice and easy and builds to full gallop. "Sigh For no Reason" - the lyrics speak of heartbreak "barefoot in the sun", sorrow-filled questioning, "what's on your mind when you cry for no reason, kills me that I don't know why". The instantly memorable, 'is it the season, when you spin me around'. Arrogance and new money, "Cupcake" tells the story of what's not important in life. As you listen to "every chance reminds you what a lucky man he is" and "he never asks about you 'cause the best life is his", you recall a character in your own life that has mistakenly traded relationships for things ... "a million dollars and a brand new car". Peter has spun a tale with haunting visuals, "he lights a stick of sorrow, blows smoke rings in the wind", the smoke almost filling the void created by his self-importance. The title track, "I Used to Work', talks about life being down-sized by getting the clutter out. The clutter of working everyday at a job that is no longer any fun. This song resonates with Peter's generation, a generation eager to scale back and a generation more than familiar with the pink slip. 'I used to work, I used to scream'. Peter writes about moving back to his roots and giving his treasures to others to enjoy - "shedding himself of stuff". The freedom of stripping away all the unnecessary clutter and getting back to the bare necessities "build me a shelter, on a piece of rock". Walton's work on harmonica is fabulous. This song works so well following "Cupcake"; the guy who thought he had it all with his "million dollars" but in reality has nothing compared to the guy who "used to work" and now really has it all. Douglas' mandolin solos on "Fred" puts me in mind of the late great Willie P. Bennett. The song is about Fred J. Eaglesmith, a favourite songwriter of Mandic's. It's a raw, honest look at one of Canada's best kept secrets. Razor Wire, a co-write with Mandic and Wayne Carlson was featured on CBC's Fifth Estate. The show chronicled Carlson's life within the prison system and his parole hearing in March of 2006. A sad, sad song leaving you with goose bumps as Mandic and Walton harmonize "I'm always tired". "8 Guitars", a Mandic/Panacci co-write is a favourite of mine. I love Paul McKeracher's bass and the voice drops at the end of lines, "too many things ... too much". This song takes me down a garden path. I feel myself walking with some excitement towards something new "something I can't loose". Steve Moore's "You Went Away" is a bare angry in-your-face breakup song. Steve's songwriting is great with lines like "with your piss cats hissing in the back of your Chevrolet, you went away ...". The band makes this song their own and you'll find yourself pulling for this guy. 'Pickup Truck' is such a paradigm shift from Peter's other works. I love the spoken word, it makes me think of the great Mary Gauthier. When I asked him what he was thinking when he wrote this song, he simply said, 'suicide bombers'. This song is current and relevant in today's crazy world. This CD is for those who want something smarter beneath the lyrics. Well constructed songs performed by roots musicians with vocals reminiscent of Tom Petty or Dylan. Music with soothing space in the production.