If you like your country music fresh out of the bottle while driving down a dirt road in a beat-up pick-up truck with your best dog by your side, I got a guy for you.
The guy is Thomas Stajcer and the record is “Will I Learn To Love Again?”.
This is a rough and tumble collection of original songs inspired in no small measure by the outlaw country sound pioneered in the ’70s by artists like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and David Allan Coe.
Stajcer, who hails from Hespeler, Ont., but now calls Halifax home, draws heavily on that sound but also likes to juice things up from time to time with some gritty rock ’n’ roll, as he does so well on the album’s closing track, “How Long Could I Wait?” and “Any Old Road”.
I’m also partial to “In The Long Run," a barn-burner of a track with some serious picking, “Sad Cowboy”, which comes across as half lament, half good ‘ol boy to-do list, and “Wildfires”, the sad tale of a relationship turned to ashes.
Stajcer, who’s a pretty good storyteller, wrote six of the album’s nine tracks on his own and co-wrote the remaining three. Two of those tracks, Love Me Now (Or Never Again) and Wildfires were co-written with Joel Plaskett.
The record has been described as a country & western tour of doubt and regret. That’s a fairly accurate description given the fact so many country songs — including several songs here — focus on those two themes.
- Thomas Stajcer embarked this week on a tour of the Maritimes that will bring him to P.E.I. for two shows
- He plays The Trailside Cafe in Mount Stewart June 21
- The following night, June 22, he plays the Sportsman’s Club in Charlottetown
“Will I Learn To Love Again?” was recorded live off the floor at Plaskett’s New Scotland Yard studios where Stajcer works as the studio’s in-house engineer.
Stajcer served as both producer and engineer for these sessions and played guitar and bass. He was joined in the studio by a number of pretty decent players who sound like they had some serious fun making this record.
With only nine songs, the record runs just 33 minutes. I would like to have heard a few other songs he’s written.
And I expect we will.
Stajcer, who’s attended the Gordie Sampson Song Camp, has co-written songs with several other East Coast artists, most notably Dylan Guthro, Slowcaster’s Steven MacDougall and Dave Sampson.
In 2017, Stajcer was nominated for country artist of the year in The Coast’s 2017 Best of Music Reader’s Poll.
I can now see why.
(Rating: 3 out of 5 stars)
Doug Gallant is a freelance writer and well-known connoisseur of a wide variety of music. His On Track column will appear in The Guardian every second Saturday. To comment on what he has to say or to offer suggestions for future reviews, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.