Reviewed by Philip Woodward
Singer/songwriter Steve Bell is a long-term admirer of another Canadian songsmith, Bruce Cockburn, and here he's chosen to record a batch of his favourite Cockburn compositions. Throughout his successful career, spanning 20 years, Bell's approach has always, musically at least, resembled the laid-back acoustic musings of his counterpart. So it's surprising that the hugely talented Bell - despite his musical prowess and past glories - doesn't really make this offering very interesting. "Thoughts For An Afternoon", for instance, sounds like a male Norah Jones which, for this writer at least, is no good thing. Sure, it's enjoyable, in a background-music sort of way, but there's no real spark or excitement, despite Bell employing the excellent production that listeners have come to expect on his records. The style is a steady folk-pop throughout and Bell's guitar picking shines, particularly in "My Lady And My Lord", a Sufjan Stevens-esque jaunt with summery strings. And whilst there is much joy in this album - Cockburn's songs remain excellent, and Bell remains a talented artist - the listener is left asking for a little more spice on their 'Dinner With Bruce'.
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