MP3 Mark Berube - What the River Gave the Boat
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10 MP3 Songs
FOLK: Modern Folk, POP: Piano
Have you heard the story of what the river gave the boat? Itâs an old story,
maybe one of the oldest. Itâs a folktale no one knows.
Mark Berubeâs stirring fourth album arrives just in time for a world that seems to be closing in. The
first half of a double album (its companion record will be What the Boat Gave The River), this
eclectic songbook courses with rebellious sincerity as it floats past bombed-out war zones, inti-
mate heartbreaks and the border police who would demand to see its papers.
Backed by a string quartet, upright bass, percussion, dobro, trumpet, accordion and acoustic guitar,
What The River Gave The Boat is anchored in Berubeâs folk-inspired piano and striking vocals. Perched on
this raft of ivory and strings, his tales of urban saints and rural rubble drift through the places where weâve
already paid (New York City, London, Berlin) to the places where we still owe (Swaziland, Croatia). They re-
mind us that we are all linked by an endless stream of stories, even when the distances between us seem
Berube is the perfect guide for these sometimes harrowing, always beautiful journeys. Born in Brandon,
Manitoba and raised in southern Africa, Berube is a vagabond in the worldwide musical circus who draws
little spiritual distinction between the developing and the developed world. His haunting voice has a
universal vitality that is both unique and strong; a member of the music press once dubbed him âNina
Simoneâs baritone brother.â He started young, honing his voice with gospel songs every day before school
in Swaziland, while the South African police tapped his familyâs phones and sifted through their mail.
This record vaults Mark Berube into a high class of musical maturity and lyrical precision. He asks us to
remember one of the last reigning monarchs in the world, to learn the wisdom and complexity of a
man from Northern India singing the praises of Bob Dylan while dining in a Korean restaurant, to imagine
ourselves on the train at the last minute in a doomed subway tunnel, to paint a Japanese woman in a
white satin dress thrashing behind Toronto drums, to dream ourselves digging graves in a farmerâs field,
to understand that all our families are wanted by the police, to picture a place where the fear needs a
haircut but the barber shop is closed. Most wisely of all, Berube allows us our playfulness. He asks us to sit
back and watch as a pretty little bird makes love to a dove without the glove.
This album is a rowboat on a steadfast river flowing through tomorrowâs troubled headlines. It is a human
heart pulling its oars through the modern world and setting it aglow. If you havenât heard the story of What
The River Gave The Boat, I suggest you listen closely. Looking at the newspaper this morning, all alone in
my tiny kitchen, I have a feeling it has arrived just in time.
Andrew Westoll, Toronto, Fall 2006
in partnership with CDbaby
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