After six years in Taiwan, tangling with kindergarteners and watching his roots and reggae band The Anglers rise to prominence in the local underground music scene, Edmonton songwriter Scott Cook has returned with a new CD.
Fittingly entitled Long Way to Wander, it is a rambling body of work, dotted with road stories, jokes, existential questions, and wry observations. The eleven songs on the disc were written over the course of seven years and cover a wide musical territory, from folk to blues, soul, country and reggae, but a common lyrical thread--wandering, freedom and the various ways we cope with being alone, uncertain, and rootless--strings the whole album together. And although the stories are all true, and deeply personal, Cook tells them in an honest, compassionate, public voice that invites the listener to walk a while in his shoes.
Long Way to Wander took the better part of a year to record, mostly on weekends in the Taiwan apartment of fellow Canadian expat rocker and kindergarten teacher Rob Jonkman, whose attention to detail shines through on the recording. Cook sings and plays guitar, banjo, ukulele, harmonica and percussion, backed up by fellow Anglers Tyler Dakin on lead guitar and Ikeda Kinya on double bass, and a handful of Taiwan’s finest expat musicians in various accompanying roles. The album is something of a departure from the energetic roots and reggae jams heard on the Anglers’ 2003 debut release A Quarter Ounce of Prevention; the focus here is on the songs, carefully and gently delivered.
Having already completed two summer tours of Western Canada with the Anglers and two cross-country tours alone, Cook has finally decided to leave the classroom and pursue music full-time. After the album’s December 2007 release in Edmonton, he toured it around western Canada through the winter, to Taiwan for the spring festival season, and across Canada and into the States in the summer of 2008.
“Exactly the kind of act you'd be happy to stumble down the hill or through the birches and hear at a music festival... warm like a campfire, familiar like the lake down the road. .. deep-thinking, introspective stuff.” —Fish Griwkowsky, The Edmonton Sun
“Great vocals with some tasteful instrumental work and darn good song writin’.” —John Wort Hannam, Presenter, South Country Fair
“Long Way To Wander resonates with a Dylan-esque verve, a Waits-ian post-modernity, Cook baring his soul in public for all to hear. The songs mostly revolve around Cook's strings - guitar, banjo, ukelele - and his low, booming voice, while a few of his friends appear in secondary roles. His observations are spot-on and often funny, and places and people come to life vividly, whether Cook is singing about his grandmother in Alabama or about being lost somewhere in the middle of Asia. And while the album is deliberately more delicate than The Anglers' high-energy reggae jams (check out their 2003 debut A Quarter Ounce of Prevention), Long Way To Wander represents a huge leap forward for a singer-songwriter who has many more stories to tell.” -Francois Marchand, The Edmonton Journal
“Alternating between an acoustic guitar and a banjo, frontman Scott Cook led the steamy crowd of dreadlocked dancers along like a barefooted pied piper with his eclectic mix of musical styles. At the heart of it all was an undeniable groove and a message of universal love that gave the night a warm fuzzy vibe even a cynical old bastard like myself couldn’t ignore.” —Phil Duperron, Vue Weekly, Edmonton
"His voice is Tom Waits, his sensibilities are Bob Dylan, Kerouac, and Walt Whitman, and his music is a mixture of folk, rhythm and blues, country, bluegrass and reggae. Being a writer as well as a musician, his songs are rich, atmospheric stories about his geographical and philosophical journeys... His music has the ability to transport one instantly to a space of campfire-lit, creek-dipping radiance. Listening to this album is perennially serendipitous – like one is chancing upon a well-traveled old soul by the fireside, whose stripping-away-the-veneer knowledge of the world is never jaded, but always innocent."
-Monica Chattaway, CKUA radio