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Terry Tufts - The Better Fight

The Better Fight

Terry Tufts

BCD 172

Borealis Records
225 Sterling Road
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M6R 2B2

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Scott Sheldon
(Scott@Sanctuaryconcerts.org)

Over his thirty-year career, Ontario's Terry Tufts has perhaps been best-known as the brilliant go-to guitar and mandolin player for a host of Canadian recording artists. However, he has honed a powerful and passionate body of his own songs, of which The Better Fight is a mature and self-assured collection.

Seeing Terry perform live, there is no doubt about the sort of person and performer he is. In his black wool cap, braided blonde sideburns studded with precious stones, and decidedly un-hip black glasses, he delivers his anthemic songs with unstinting passion and candor. His songs feature his dead-honest authenticity and unwavering (though not preachy) message of protecting the Earth and living life as "the better fight" without compromise.

Terry cleverly wraps up this view of life in his song Black Velvet Elvis, an infectious folk/rocker that asks, "What'll it be? Black Velvet Elvis or Georgia O'Keefe?" That is, a life of artifice or a life of authenticity?

The remainder of The Better Fight makes clear that Terry Tufts has chosen Georgia O'Keefe.. The title song, an anthemic folk song that could as easily have been penned by David Wilcox, begins "With some fine skills and my pocket and a small sense of adventure I will build myself a rocket, leave my self-imposed indenture…"and celebrates a life where you "might never get it right" but will have "fought the good fight." In the powerful anti-war (whether against humans, animals, or the environment) song Embracing the Addiction, a poetic rocker that brings to mind U2 or The Cranberries, Terry sings about war: "Every father destined to perpetuate this cruel charade/ Every mother destined to give birth astride an open grave."

These are intentionally not overtly commercial songs: They don't feature poppy hooks and they often run more than five minutes. However, they are beautifully melodic and feature Terry's remarkable guitar, mandolin, and citern playing, as well as hot piano playing from Mark Ferguson and a guest vocal appearance by Jesse Winchester. Terry pointedly weaves together a number of genres (the liner notes for each song suggest a point of comparison, like "Think James Taylor Via Pat Matheny"). That Was You, This Was Me is a nostalgic love song filled with lush major sevenths and arpeggiated piano runs in the Motown tradition. Open Letter to the Earth" is like a closing prayer, in which Terry confesses that he had "stopped listening" to Mother Earth but wants to hear her again. Fly Away celebrates the February 1909 flight of the Silver Dart - the first heavier-than-air flight in the British Empire - with the beautiful and playful lines:
We still love to have the wind in our hair.
And still tend to grow toward the light.
Still enthused at the thought of a motorcycle engine
On a tricycle strapped to a kite.

Rock on, Terry. A forceful and moving album.

Track List:

  • Hey Jerusha
  • Dirty Little War
  • The Better Fight
  • Pursuant To My Nature
  • Awake Ye Drowsie Sleeper
  • Black Velvet Elvis
  • That Was You. This Was Me
  • Embracing The Addiction
  • Fly Away
  • Idyll
  • Slow And Easy
  • I Got Work To Do
  • Open Letter To The Earth
All songs by Terry Tufts except Black Velvet Elvis by Terry Tufts, David Francey, K.E. Briggs; I Got Work To Do by the Isley Brothers.

Edited by:David N. Pyles
(dnpyles@acousticmusic.com)

Copyright 2006, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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