CD Review – Mike Tod

by Mark Hudson

Mike Tod hails from Alberta Canada, and comes with an old-time and traditional music background from his time in the Godfrey & Tod duo. His self-titled studio LP was released in the spring of 2023, but it comes with such a deep vein of old-time vibes that the sound could be from 1923 or even 1823…a sound that would feel very much at home on the open Alberta prairies. This new album mines traditional roots along with Celtic, folk, and country, all the same roots as bluegrass but with a different sounding result.

The songs are indeed traditional, with the exception of Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Little Wheel Spin and Spin,” and that’s given a unique but traditional treatment on the album and stands very well with the rest.

Among the rest of the songs on the album you’ll find “The Blackest Crow,” “The Coo Coo,” “The Flowers of Edinburgh,” and “Undone in Sorrow” mixed with more that you’ll recognize and some you may not.

The sound? Well, to borrow from some social media statuses, “It’s complicated.”
Traditional? Yes. Stripped down? Yeah, that too. But the deft use of percussion, and the background layers of viola, violin, and lap steel bring many of the songs to an epic sounding level where they would not be out of place as theme songs in some classic westerns. At the same time “Wait For Me” and “My Alberta Rose” could well have been recorded around an upright piano in an old saloon.

Mike’s voice is his own raspy tenor, but it can’t help but invoke comparison with John Prine. In fact I can just imagine John and Mike swapping tunes in some smoky barroom, what a dream that would have been!

Mike Tod: Vocals and guitar
Opal Retzer: Vocals
Travis Miller: Percussion
Keith Roger: Bass
Nathan M, Godfrey: Banjo
Jeremy Gignoux: Viola
Laura Reid: Violin
Tyler Allen: Lap steel

Mark Hudson

Mark Hudson is a long time local HVBA member and music lover who, unfortunately, had to move away. He misses the local scene but will look for you at Greyfox!

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