Steel City Trawler
Six Shooter Records
[Rating: 3.5 stars]
Shaped by his move from Toronto to Hamilton, Ontario (known as Steeltown) Steel City Trawler follows up this Canadian songsmith’s critically-acclaimed Blood’s Too Rich (2008). After spending the summer touring as the lead guitarist in Sarah MacLachlan’s band for Lilith Fair, Doucet takes center stage again with his own music.
Doucet recorded the disc mainly in Toronto at the Lincoln County Social Club with Andrew Scott from Canadian rock band Sloan; Scott co-wrote four tracks with Doucet and brought his various musical influences to the project.
These touchstones are reflected in the final production: the record oozes rock ‘n’ soul with a whole lotta guitar grooves thanks to the songwriter’s beloved Gretsch White Falcon (whom he names his band after), and other vintage instruments he used in the studio. The disc opens with the raucous “Monkeys” and follows with 10 more choice cuts. Doucet enjoys playing covers — here, he gives a nod to a Canadian songwriting legend—tackling Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown.” Rather than the mid-tempo acoustic number Lightfoot was known for, Doucet ramps this song up by layering on the electric guitars and giving it a rock treatment a la Crazy Horse.
One of the few acoustically-inclined numbers, “Hey Now,” feels like a Tom Petty penned anthem; it starts with lightly strummed guitar and builds to a climax of a chorus that features a wall of sound of backing vocals led by Doucet’s wife and fellow songslinger Melissa McClelland. “The Ballad of Ian Curtis” — the first single — is an odd ode to the late frontman for Brit band Joy Division. The song came to Doucet while he was on one of his runs and features this lyrical gem: “Put me in your magazine/I’ve got photogenic eyes.”
One other highlight is “Dirty, Dirty, Blonde,” a Stones-y rocker marked by the double-entendre lines: “What you see is not the girl that you get, she may be yellow underneath, but she’s a bottle brunette.” Finally, the packaging is unique; it’s a throwback to the time and care put into vinyl records of old; it comes complete with a booklet that narrates the songs with comics and artwork done by David Collier, chronicling Doucet’s observations of his newfound home.