The title of Jon Brooks’s fifth album comes from a Conan Doyle story, The Copper Beeches, and if you know the context you’ll understand how appropriate it is to these stories of the hidden secrets of (mostly) rural Canadian life.
The centrepiece of the album is the eleven minutes-plus of ‘The Only Good Thing Is An Old Dog’, almost certainly an urban tale and a musical take on a Falling Down packed with quotes from King Lear. The protagonist returns to the firm where he presumably once worked and kills everyone he can find. I am still undecided whether to be horrified at this story of carnage; admiring of the skill of the writing; or whooping in glee a the destruction of everybody’s secret pet hates. The fascination with firearms echoes the opening track, ‘Gun Dealer’, almost an acoustic guitar rap, but as the killer observes, ‘My name is Trevor, so ya know it doesn’t end well‘.
In contrast there is ‘These Are Not Economic Hard Times’, a very short song about the result of the banking crisis and a rewritten version of ‘The Twa Sisters’ (here ‘Two Sisters’) relocated in Minnesota that is absolutely brilliant. I’d like to continue at some length but…I just love this record.