Guest Reviewer: Brad Wheeler, music writer for the Globe and Mail

Brian Blain I’m Not Fifty Anymore Independent

Brian Blain was born Sept. 11, 1946. I’ll let the mathematics enthusiasts figure out his age, but Blain is old enough to know that there’s no sense putting out an album if one doesn’t have something worthwhile to say.
With I’m Not Fifty Anymore, Blain offers topical and occasionally personal middle-of-the-road blues in accessible, avuncular ways.
The album-opening title track boogies to a rocking-chair rhythm, with wry observations on growing old. Young (ish) Steve Marriner plays a blazing harmonica in accompaniment. He’ll fully understand the song in 20 years or so.
If Blain’s humour and lumbago are acting up on the opening track, he’s more limber and serious on Water Song, a stylish statement on a world-wide crisis of thirst. Sadio Sissokho (kora) and Harry Manx (mohan veena) add an exotic flair; wailing backing vocals from Ruth Mathiang convey sorrow in a vaguely Middle Eastern manner.
The Not-Worried Blues (An American Dream) is a full-band effort sung from the blithe, oblivious point of view of a suckered blue-collar rube. The piano solo comes from Julian Fauth. Downchild’s Gary Kendall, Mike Fitzpatrick and Pat Carey are also on board.
The Mother I Never Knew burns in a sensitive minor key. It was inspired by the recent discovery of Blain’s birth mother: “A kind-hearted woman, a person of very deep faith / only thinking of others, some might even call her a saint.”
The last track is an acoustic journey and meditation. Recorded with Michael Jerome Browne for Blain’s 2006 album Overqualified for the Blues, the 10-minute Tai Chi Ten goes nowhere in particular – an excellent destination and peaceful exhale.