No Mean City
* * * * (4 STARS)
If you’ve ever waited for the all-night bus to take you home after putting in overtime on the Friday late shift at a downtown bar, you’ll know where this former Norge Union organist and Richmond Hill native is coming from. No Mean City reflects on a bittersweet homage to life in the urban world – namely, Canada’s largest city. While the music itself isn’t anything you haven’t heard before (the acoustic guitar and harmonica on How Good It Is To Love Someone, How Right It Is To Care are reminiscent of Bob Dylan), the real power of Brooks’ offering lies in its altruistic, good-natured poetry in the face of a place that, more often than not, couldn’t care less.
From the man who buys the Somali heroin addict a beer and a shot at the Steerburger bar on the track Miracle On Bleecker Street, to the emptiness the young Scarborough ÈmigrÈ feels as she moves away from her east-end home in the title track, here is Jon Brooks’ brushstroke of calm humanity against the canvas of a pitiless city.