Charlie Adams,
(Inukshuk, 1997)

Charlie Adams was born in 1953 in an igloo in Inukjuak, and on this recording he stays very close to these images of his early beginnings.

Although his music tends to lean to the country-and-western style, his lyrics and language are true to the northern culture that he springs from. His lyrics are sung in a native language of the north, particularly the Northern Quebec area. Even on French or Spanish recordings, I can pick up a familiar phrase or two, not so on this CD. Fortunately the liner notes give the translation of the titles and the lyrics.

The translations expose the simplicity of his words. For example, in "Today I'm Thinking Clearly (Ullumi Isumatsiarasuarpunga)" he sings "Mother please write me a small letter/please try to send it here/Last year I did a bad thing/When I stopped listening to you./In a big house I'm in a dark place/I don't think I am going out from the jail/Today I'm thinking clearly/Today I'm thinking clearly."

His words speak to the young people, to the elders and to those who love to remember their heritage. Some of his words speak about the unique life experiences of the north but others are universally felt and understood. Titles such as "Pretty Girl," "Springtime" and "I'm Happy" touch us all. He talks in other songs about being homesick, about being down south and how he misses hearing the words of Inuktitut. In another he describes going by dog team to the open ocean, to the edge of the ice, hunting seals and the happiness found in that way of life.

Though the stories and songs on this CD are about the Inuit culture and were probably written for the Inuit people, there are many thoughts and images here that will touch your heart. In simple but powerful words Adams paints pictures and that's what impressed me most about this album.

The music features proficient playing on 12-string acoustic guitar that is rich and melodic. Adams also has accompaniment from Eric Gaudet on bass guitar, Eric Laflamme on keyboard, Martin Periard on drums and Andre Brassard on hand percussion. The music is a professional mix that shows; it's very smooth and very together. Not every song had background vocals but on those that did, Alacie Kasudluak and Caroline Naktairaluk added another layer of enjoyment.

I wasn't sure if I'd like this CD and I cringed a little when I heard the old country-and-western sound that this one opens up with. It's worth the time to keep listening, though, because there are some true folk gems here that sparkle just like the Arctic snow in spring-time.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 8 March 2003

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