Cautionary Tales (2011)

Keeping Time (2009) I told my father that I was really glad he decided to put this album of his songs together. His response was "Really? How come?" I told him that it was because many of these songs were ones I grew up with. But the truth is, this collection will surely mean something even to those who have never heard the songs before. Their elegant and intricate construction stands as an example of great, timeless songwriting, and Robert's marvelous arrangements and production give each one its own unique life and character.

The themes cover a wide range, from melancholy introspection ("Wandrin' In the Endless Desert," "Keeping Time," "Fighting Fire with Fire") to insightful political commentary ("Good Boy," "Where Heaven Lays the Blame," "Deliver Me") to meditations on family and growing up ("Bless the Children," "Granddad," "Children") to expressions of longing and love for the natural world ("West Ontario," "Colorado"). The tone also varies widely; some of the songs are angry, some are full of love, some full of regret, some are hilarious and comical, while others are mystical and dreamlike. "Walkin' Man" fits into this last category, and both Andrew and I agree that it's one of the most unsettling and strangely beautiful songs we've heard, due in equal parts to my father's mysterious lyrics and Robert's wonderful arrangement. Another of my favorites is "Pirate Jenny," which Andrew wrote, and which is presented here in a very different style from the original. "Bless the Children" means more to me in a personal sense than I can fully describe, but the emotions behind it are so universal that it can apply to any family.

I watched some of these songs progress from the initial stages of writing to the final recordings; others have been around since before I was born. They are all concerned in one way or another with the passage of time and the ways people choose to spend their lives. My father chose to spend his life as a teacher, a choice which shines through the fabric of this album. It's about trying to learn from experience and pass that learning on to others. My songwriting and, more importantly, my view of life will always be inspired by these songs.