Kieran White: Hummingbird
From Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes (Numero, 2009)

As any polite person would tell you, it’s always ladies first. So back in 2006 when Numero released their first folk compilation in a (soon-to-be) series entitled Wayfaring Strangers, they followed the age-old tradition. Now, it’s time for the men to get their shine. These “lonesome heroes” offer observations mainly on everyday life on their sojourns to whereverland.

You’ll find sparse instrumentation throughout, usually just an acoustic guitar – although sometimes a flute pops up. The lone exception is the album closer by Robb Kunkel which features lush orchestration. Featuring quite a spectrum of takes on the genre, “The Tailor” by Jack Hardy features a rough-voiced lead with occasional backup touches by two sweet-voiced females, whereas former hockey player Jim Schoenfeld has a more tender vocal on anti-war themed piece “Before.”

Kieran White’s “Hummingbird” is a sweet slice of soulful solace. Interestingly, White recorded this song as a demo/guide vocal for another artist for Gull, a label he was a staff writer for in the early ’70s. As the track ends, I think we found where the Crash Test Dummies got their inspiration for “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” 20 years later. “Hummingbird” is one of the most instantly likable pieces of acoustic music I’ve heard in the last several months next to Alexi Murdoch’s “All My Days” (which you, too, might have heard for the first time like I did in the trailer for “Away We Go.”)

Lonesome Heroes isn’t a start-to-finish masterpiece but it has its moments more often than not. Throw this on at a campfire with friends, and it’s sure to start more than a few interesting conversations. That’s all the artists featured intended to begin with – a few laughs and a few stories shared with close cronies.