Bruce Cockburn is Canada's version of Richard Thompson, a brilliant folk-rock guitarist who also writes smart, acerbic lyrics about the twisted ways of modern society and modern romance. Never as vicious or as funny as Thompson, Cockburn is a more restrained, less obvious talent, but rewarding just the same. Dart to the Heart, free of political abstractions and filled with personal musings on love, is his best since 1985's World of Wonders. The first single, "Listen for the Laugh," is a boisterous hornªpowered rocker that insists good-naturedly that the surest sign of love is not sighing but laughter–and very specific sort of laughter, like "a chain saw in a velvet glove." That's a good description for Cockburn's guitar work, too, for he keeps it buried behind his deep, sleepy vocals, but if you listen closely you can hear just how his picking chews up chords and sends notes flying in all directions.
The works on this collection are drawn from two of the very first stereo LPs released by the L’Oiseau-Lyre sub-label of Decca. ‘Music of Handel’ was a 1958 album containing arias (recently reissued by Eloquence 482 4759) and this instrumental suite from Rodrigo, one of the composer’s early pre-London Italian operas, performed in Florence in 1707.