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  Crescent Blues Movie Views

Lenz Entertainment (CD-Rom)
What happens when you take two Ontario-based actors who also possess musical talent, let them take a trip to Nashville, then lock them in a room for a while? You get Love and Carnage, the second album by Paul Gross (star of the television series Due South) and David Keeley ("Sam Carmichael" in the Broadway version of Mamma Mia).

This sometimes rousing, sometimes wistful collection of tunes defies pigeonholing, but if pressed, I would say it probably falls into the category of country-rock.

Because the CD sleeve gives no clue as to who wrote what songs, I assume that the guys sing lead on the songs they penned and got together to do the musical arrangements and make the album. While this gives rise to the potential danger of a disjointed disc, Love and Carnage thrives on its eclectic mix of songs.

"Give the Dog a Bone," one of Gross's tunes, exemplifies the singer-songwriter's wicked sense of humor, his sly twist of plot. It also takes full advantage of the husky growl in his voice. The first time I listened to this track, a picture flew unbidden into my mind of a gorgeous-yet-clueless guy, naked on a bed in a cheap motel room, trying to figure why his "date" just walked out the door. It still makes me giggle.

Keeley also puts forth some clever humor in his song "If Heaven Had a Back Door." First of all, the breathy exhaled vocal at the beginning of the song made me shiver in a very good way. After that, Keeley tells the listener, due the load of his trangressions, the only chance of getting into heaven rests on finding a back way in. But if he sings to me like that, I don't particularly care. I'll roast in hell right along with him.

"Gone with the Wind" gets my vote as my favorite ballad by Keeley. A mournful tune on a pennywhistle and the mention of sea and moon made me think of a man who fell in love with a selkie (a mystical female creature from Celtic myth) who leaves him to return to her home, the sea.

"Family Matters," a dark, medium-tempo song, demonstrates the melancholic side of Gross's personality. Musically, this track sits at the top of my favorites. Gross's smooth vocals set the perfect tone. The story unfolds gracefully. Fiddles, guitars and additional background vocals pile on top of each other, betraying the narrator's inner turmoil. This tune also demonstrates the beautiful harmonization and blend of the two men's voices.

On the whole, Love and Carnage is a fun, entertaining, very listenable album that I can't stop myself from singing with or moving to. Unfortunately, you won't find it on Amazon.com. Instead, try the Gross and Keeley Web site, where you can find a link to purchase a copy through Music For Your Soul, a distributor of independently produced music. Memorabilia hounds can buy autographed copies of Love and Carnage through Badlands Books.

Jenny Buehler

Click here to read Jenny Buehler's interview with Paul Gross.

Click here to read Jenny Buehler's review of Men With Brooms, a new comedy starring Paul Gross.

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