It has been largely under the radar, but Canadian soul/blues/roots singer/songwriter André Bisson has been a prolific recording artist over the past two decades. Latchford is rather a milestone album, as it is the 10th entry in his discography.

It is a consistently strong effort, and one worthy of bringing Bisson increased attention. He has at least been recognised in his hometown of Hamilton, as a five time nominee for the Hamilton Arts Awards, and a victory as Male Vocalist of the Year at the Hamilton Blues awards. He has competed at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, representing Grand River Blues , and won a Song of the Year Award at the 2022 International Song Contest for Blues & Roots Radio for his tune ‘Down the Line’.

Worthy of note is the fact that Bisson wrote and produced all the material on Latchford himself, and he contributed electric and acoustic guitar, percussion and harmonica. He recruited a large cast of A-list players here, including keyboardist Jesse O’Brien (Blackie and The Rodeo Kings), veteran saxophonist Pat Carey (part of a four-piece horn section), Loretta Hale (trumpet/cello), Paul Barna (violin, viola), and backing vocalists Quisha Wint and Selena Evangeline.

Latchford was recorded at elite Mississauga studio Metalworks, and the production quality throughout is strong.

Bisson explains that a unifying theme if the album lyrically is “Perspective. Sometimes is not about changing the situation but how we view it. Realizing that when we control our thoughts, we have full control of our lives, our outlook on life, and our reality.”

One example of that here is the closing cut, “The Bring Down,” a rollicking tune featuring horns and female backing vocals in which Bisson finds the positive in a failed situation, declaring “thank you for bringing me down.” 

Similar positivity informs another album highlight, “The Reformed Deceiver,” released as an early single (Sample lyric: ‘Now I’m a believer, a reformed deceiver, I’m through with walking away”). The full-blooded tune features lusty horns, harmonica, and piano, and it showcases Bisson’s soulful voice neatly.

Also released as a single earlier, “Shake” has a Motown feel, with horns again to the fore. Horns play a prominent role on many of the songs here, and they are arranged in inventive fashion. The rhythm section of Keagan Early (drums) and Mike Rowell (bassist) is tight throughout, and a funky groove anchors such tunes as “Echo Mountain,” “Enough,” and “Sticks and Stones.”

While most of the album is built upon soul, R&B, and blues elements, a couple of the strongest songs here would fit right into an Americana/roots playlist. “Dusty Albums” features spirited keyboards and a violin solo, while the ballad “Longest Way Around” has something of a country gospel feel, with Bisson’s chameleonic vocals to the fore.

Hopefully the stylistic eclecticism of Latchford won’t deter those preferring a sound that can be easily pigeonholed, for Bisson is a major talent worthy of your time.(Kerry Doole)