Jude Waldman may be a relative newcomer to the Yukon music scene, but as a singer-songwriter he’s already a veteran, playing his folk blues at open mic and songwriter nights.
He even wrote and recorded a song a day for 100 days, and released them on his blog.
Waldman has toured extensively with the likes of the Weber Brothers, Fred Eaglesmith and Ronnie Hawkins. He’s been based out of Whitehorse for a couple of years now.
While he was in Dublin in 2008, he met Patrick Hallinan, co-founder of Laredo Records who encouraged him to record Coca-Cola & Silver Screens, a CD of original songs, featuring Waldman’s gravelly voice and finger-picking on a well-battered blues guitar.
At a recent show, he described the album as inspired by a long-distance relationship. Full of emotion, the songs tell the story of lofty romance, but from street level – of a poor wanderer who dreams of winning and keeping a woman’s love.
With “City Streams” he looks away from the reality of the world to a pastoral vision. Picking softly, he sings, “Where there ain’t no factories/and there ain’t no city streets/where the children play with dragons all day.”
“One in a Million” jumps from his romantic ideal back to harsher reality, “You’re one in a million/but it only takes a hundred dollars/to put you down.”
The album’s emotional high point comes with “Coca-Cola and Silver Screens”. With his voice straining and a simple guitar strum, he sings “maybe you can take me away to a place/to a life of pretty dreams with your pretty face/and I’d love you anyway.”
If you listen closely, there’s a faint background vocal, the only track on the CD with a second voice. It makes you conclude that the woman he’s singing to is there, unconsciously singing along.
It’s Waldman’s guitar that brings out the emotional truth of the songs, which range from finger-style blues like “I Don’t Mind” to slide on “One in a Million”, tender strumming on “Look Out Momma” and the raw passion of “Livin’ This Lifetime“.
The CD’s only weak point is “Pack Your Things”, an a capella blues. With that guitar drawing Waldman’s feelings out, it feels flat, like a faint echo of the songs around it.
The album is dedicated to the music of John Martyn, the Irish folk/jazz-rock songwriter who died in January, 2009. But Waldman’s songs remind me more of American outlaw county songwriter Townes Van Zandt.
“Please Say Yes” provides a good example of this. In country-blues style, he proposes with a pawn store ring that he imagines, “… was probably sitting in some old jewelry box/belonged to somebody’s grandmother/some punk kid stole it for a pipe of crack cocaine/and a new steering wheel.”
Coca-Cola and Silver Streams is a brief look inside the heart of a songwriter and romantic. It’s stripped down and raw, and despite its range, it’s just a small part of what Waldman is capable of.
I’m looking forward to finding out what he can do with a full band, and to learning whether the woman said yes or no.
For more Jude Waldman, check out myspace.com/judewaldman
Outstanding track: “Livin’ This Lifetime”.