September 19, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 13  

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CD Review

Jim Bryson

The North Side Benches

There is a certain "je ne sais quoi" feeling that can be evoked from time to time, on any given summer night, driving under the translucent opal twilight through the Beaches district in Toronto. It is a certain mood, a flavour, a sense of something in the air that cannot quite be articulated but is there. Ottawa rocker Jim Bryson, still a relative unknown in many circles, comes as close as you can get to bottling that distinctive yet subdued pub-patio, open-air ambiance on his second CD, The North Side Benches.

The album is instrumentally rich and layered in texture, with subtle yet memorably melodic tones coupled with rock ballad stanzas which are pure Canadiana. Best described as a fusion between the best elements of fellow canucks Bruce Cockburn and Blue Rodeo, melded with the likes of Billy Bragg and John Mayer, Benches is both a low-key and astutely harmonic album.

Benches works to accentuate whatever mood you're in and is one of those rare universally appealing albums which belongs on the shelf of both the Bohemian and the bureaucrat alike.

-Mike Arntfield



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