Local fellow Grant Davidson’s album, Tired Limbs for Ashes, is a quiet affair, evoking a dusty late-summer afternoon spent reflecting on life’s highs and lows, likely on a front porch, enjoying a cigarette and a cold bottle of Standard. Davidson’s voice is calm, articulate, earnest — reminiscent of another Winnipegger, Greg Macpherson, only with a little more mud on the tires.
The first line of the disc evokes the nomadic state musicians must adopt in order to peddle their wares. Images of the road, or the rails, appear throughout, with a fair share of regional flair (references to the Red River, the Yellowhead Highway, etc., abound) added to the mix to make any Western Canadian feel both at home and homesick at the same time. On “She Says She Likes Cowboys” Davidson’s songwriting evokes Fred Eaglesmith, creating a heartbreaking tale of identity and love lost. With “February Blues,” he taps into the desperate feeling every Winnipegger knows all too well.
The instrumentation throughout Tired Limbs for Ashes is subtle, but spot on. Guitar licks ebb and flow, tugging at heartstrings, while the back beat alternates between a popping road-ready rhythm, and a soft brush, like wind through tall, dry grass. Harmonies, too, are used sparingly, but to maximum effect, creating a very intimate feeling to the album. That being said, it might not be the best selection to play if you’re attempting to get any sort of party started — unless, of course, it’s an intimate party for two.
Released by Winnipeg’s own Dollartone Records, Tired Limbs for Ashes finds itself in good company among the cream of the crop of western Canadian roots music. Personally, I’m embarrassed I haven’t taken the time to check Davidson’s live act out, as it comes highly recommended. After giving this disc repeated spins, I reckon it’s high time I did just that — and recommend the same to you, based on the strength of this debut.