Bob Menzies - One More Highway

A fine collection rooted in a worldly wisdom
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One More Highway is a fitting title indeed for Bob Menzies' second recording.  An inveterate wanderer who's learned his share of life's lessons on treks that have taken him around the globe, he remains a restless spirit.  Many of the songs on One More Highway deal with the theme of travel, whether literal or metaphorical.

Menzies' music would probably best be described as folk-rock, but the blues and good ol' rock 'n' roll are evident as well.  Don't call it Americana, though - Menzies was born in Holland, raised in Montreal, and has worked in Germany, London, and California.  So while the musical forms are familiar enough, there's a worldly wisdom here, a sense that Menzies' true home is global indeed.

Menzies wrote all the material on One More Highway, many based on or inspired by his own real-life experiences.  There's "Riders Of The Purple Sage," employing a clever combination of Zane Grey titles to tell a tale of hobo life, and "End Of The Line," a tune about the famed Green Parrot Bar in Key West.   There's "Can't Be Saved By Love," a song infused with Fado, the bluesy-sad music of Portugal, and "San Francisco," a harrowing account of the dark side of the 'Summer Of Love.'

"Black Widow Spider" is a freewheeling yarn of unrequited love that sounds like a lost Dylan tune (yes, it's that good), and the hook-heavy title track, an anthemic celebration of restlessness, deals with the irresistible urge to keep moving, to travel "one more highway ...".

Production is exemplary, rich and full, with Menzies' craggy but thoroughly convincing voice front and center; what he lacks in polish, he makes up for with unadorned honesty.  The band includes producer Russell Gray on guitars and ebow (used to coax otherwise unobtainable tones from an electric guitar) and James Gray (no relation) on keys, violin, and accordion.  (The latter, formerly of Canadian country-rock institution Blue Rodeo, passed away shortly after these sessions were recorded).

What it comes down to, though, are the songs, and here Menzies is a master craftsman.  They're all catchy, with sing-along choruses and genuinely infectious melodies.  But there's wisdom here, too.  Menzies knows there are no answers, really, and the search is what matters in the end; be thankful for  life's grace notes, but never, ever stop seeking.  As he sings on the title track, "We're only young for a minute ..."

This is wise and wonderful stuff, highly recommended!