You can hear the listening on Old Man Luedecke’s new album, “Domestic Eccentric”. You can hear the cabin in the snowy Nova Scotia woods where it was recorded. On their third collaboration, you can hear the beautiful conversation between Old Man Luedecke and Tim O’Brien, two like-minded artists in love with folk and roots music, playing at the height of their powers.
“You can’t fake a work of heart,” Luedecke sings in “The Girl in the Pearl Earring,” the second song on “Domestic Eccentric”, and the assured confidence of that line, the assertion of a straightforward truth, is the guiding principle behind the entire album. Old Man Luedecke is the real thing, a modern-day people’s poet and traveling bard and balladeer. He’s played around the world to a loving and increasing fan base, and won two Juno awards in the process. Tim O’Brien is a multiple grammy-winning roots multi-instrumentalist whose solo work and collaborations have made him one of the most respected American players working today. The two last worked together on Luedecke’s 2012 release, “Tender is the Night”, which was nominated for a Juno, listed for the Polaris Prize and won Album of the Year at the East Coast Music Awards.
Not since Loudon Wainwright III has anyone written so honestly, so openly, or with such aching tenderness and good humour about family life. “Saving up for date night so we can have our fight” “The Early Days”. But Luedecke has always insisted on a solid poetic heft in the way he uses words, and highly personal stories are what have always connected him to the universal in his audience. Recording with Tim O’Brien in an intimate setting at home has yielded an album where the songs take the starring role.
Calling to mind the powerful force at the heart of other musical vocal pairings: The Milk Carton Kids, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, Tony Rice and Ricky Skaggs, or even Tim O’Brien and his work with Darrell Scott, the combination of Old Man Luedecke’s highly personal songs and infectious old-time banjo and guitar, and Tim O’Brien’s mastery of bluegrass harmony, guitars, mandolin, bouzouki, and fiddle adds up to much more than a simple sum of parts.
As the title suggests, “Domestic Eccentric” is mostly a record about home. It’s about what it means to be a still-youngish man, what it’s like to still be in love with the woman you married a decade ago, about what it’s like to watch your own babies grow to children, and about the joys and sorrows attendant upon the milestones of parenthood. “You got to hold on, it goes so fast, these early days they don’t last” “Early Days”.