Gunning & Cormier
Label: Self Released
Dave Gunning from Nova Scotia and John Paul Cormier from Ontario go back nearly 25 years, as friends, co-writers, and touring partners. Yet it’s taken this long for their often discussed wish to record an album together to materialize, and was it worth the wait? Oh yes! Their fans will be totally delighted by ‘Two’, their aptly named first collaborative album.
The expression ‘the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ comes to mind as these already consummate professionals combine their award winning talents, creating a truly beautiful album that is perfectly named. Real authentic roots music, strong lyrics, timeless themes, terrific musicianship, and an almost telepathic musical connection that some folks seem to possess that all go together to create an album that is a ten track acoustic treat.
The first song, a cover of ‘Never Picked Cotton’ sets the feel with some fine flat picking guitar and a powerful story of family and the hardships of work in yesteryear. ‘Home to Mary’ shows just how well the voices of these two friends harmonise. This is a fabulous original song from the pair, an absolute master class of song writing and the kind of song that buries itself into your mind and just gets better with each listen.
The other original on the album is ‘Brothers’ and some of the lyrics seem to echo the relationship between Dave and J.P. “Dave is such a part of my life” says Cormier “He is just like family, a blood relative and it’s always been that way”. And Gunning’s reply to this was “Absolutely, we just became fast friends, and we’ve been working together ever since”
One of the reasons for the delay in them producing the new album is simple. They have been two of the busiest solo musicians Canada for over twenty years, and wanted to have the quality time to produce near perfect work. Interestingly, Cormier writes that the extra work they put into the guitar work and the harmonizing of their vocals creates “an overtone like a third instrument, and sometimes you can’t tell us apart, which is really weird because our voices are nothing alike, but when we sing together we have a sibling harmony, we blend like brothers”
This musical ‘brotherly blending’ is a fascinating phenomenon. When a two string chord is played on a violin in perfect tune, the human ear hears something that sounds as a third note, something which was noted by the Baroque violin virtuoso Guiseppe Tartini. It is a psychoacoustic phenomenon, an audio illusion, yet so perfectly real that it adds an extra layer of beauty to an already fine piece of instrumental or vocal work. Having listened to ‘Two’ several times now this reviewer can attest to just how Gunning and Cornier excel at this.
Apart from the two new songs, this dynamic duo have made new arrangements of old folk songs, ‘Johnny Armstrong’ and ‘Katie o’ the Gowrie’, and some excellent covers of ‘Never Picked Cotton’ and ‘Songbird Valley’. Will it take another twenty years for them to produce another album? I hope not, and I would especially love to hear some more originals from them. Patience then, for the two ‘brothers’ admit that they work to the highest standards, do not take that work lightly and that “We really put our heart into it”. That’s an understatement if ever there was one, so, please buy the album and enjoy !