What Sound Does the Valley Make?: The Music of Jack McDonald

All of these songs are from the album Domestic Acoustic, composed and arranged by the Nova Scotian musician Jack McDonald. I had the privilege of being able to spend a great deal of time with Jack and his family growing up around the Annapolis and Gaspereau valleys.

Deeply rooted in the landscape, Jack’s songs have come to represent for me an experience with the valleys which I think I may have missed growing up amidst my graveyard and haunted house, but which I have come to respect and appreciate as I travel ever further away. In 2007 he received the Valley Arts Award for his “steadfast support of musicians in [the] area, both through recording projects (Domestic Acoustic) and through the Night Kitchen (open mic variety show)”. His song “Bluenose Cowgirl” speaks to the all too common exodus that I’ve commented on in my previous post about Stan Rogers’ “The Idiot”, while songs such as “Burtland Brook” and “The Valley Below” echo the ebb and flow of life around the Bay of Fundy.

Still my favorite of Jack’s songs has always been “Coffin Carpenter” for its resonance with any creative task that a psyche can seek to pour itself in to, and for its ability to render somehow sweet the obsession with the end which I think many artists are inclined towards. In this regard Jack, with his many years of making music in and around the valley, has certainly left a part of himself in his work that will no doubt be appreciated for years to come.

Though speaking of morbid obsessions, while searching for images to put up with Jack’s music I came across the work of the Acadian wood carver Jamie Thibault who has done a number of sculptures that are certainly my cup of strange, and can be seen on the website below.

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