Norm Walker Performing

CD Review: Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts (CANADIAN FOLK MUSIC)

A while past, I had the opportunity to live with my grandparents a year. Every other week, I would spend a couple of hours sitting with my grandmother, perusing one of her photo albums and listening to the stories she told with each picture. No matter how many times she showed me these snapshots from her past, I loved to hear her remembrances; it always gave me a sense of being grounded.

That is how I felt listening to Norman Walker’s latest CD. Each song was like a snapshot in a photo album, and his thoughtful singing interpreted the stories behind the pictures. The analogy is apt, I think, given what I know of Norman. For the last several years, Norman has been on the Storysave Project committee, a branch of the organization Storytellers of Canada/Conteurs du Canada. Storysave’s mandate is to archive material from storytellers across the country.

Norman’s own view is that anyone can and should archive their own stories or those of loved ones, and ought not to wait for someone else to do it. Being endowed with a talent for songwriting has provided Norman a unique method of archiving the stories of the place where he lives (Saskatchewan) and of the people he knows or has heard about from others. Admittedly, the word “archive” calls to mind something very academic and dry. Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts is anything but. - Moira Cameron, Canadian Folk Music

CD Review: T-Time: Time Tested Tales Tall and True

Walker is a terrific melodist. "Lament for the Prairie Giants", an elegy for the vanished grain elevators of Saskatchewan, is impeccable in its meld of vocals and guitar, building a surprising emotional charge in its unadorned simplicity, with a tune as stately as the buildings it commemorates. "Rosa", the urban legend of a couple's ill-fated visit to a Hong Kong restaurant with their poodle, probably the album's standout track, benefits from a comically askew scheme of timing. "Interchange Two Phases", the meeting point of the album's preoccupation with urban legends, black comedy and electricity, is also a terrific pastiche of the "teen death songs" of the 1960s (drafting an intro from "Teen Angel" to demonstrate the point), with a lavish production to match the songs to which it pays tribute. - Murray Leeder, Canadian Folk Music Bulletin de Musique Folklorique Canadienne

Norman Walker has a lot to say, and that's a good thing. The Saskatchewan singer/songwriter and master storyteller is in fine folk form on this 2002 release as he delivers the campfire goods with aplomb and an acoustic guitar. Walker has a penchant for straddling the line between the things that make folks laugh, and those they have to laugh about to keep from crying. He has no shortage of hilarious dog stories, as well. Musically, the disc tends towards old-time twang, with fleeting elements of doo-wop and Celtic music. - Chuck Molgat, Prairie Dog Magazine>