Listening Room

08 James RolfeWound Turned to Light – New Songs by James Rolfe
Alex Samaris; Jeremy Dutcher; Andrew Adridge; Lara Dodds-Eden
Redshift Records TK540 (


Wound Turned to Light

Burning in this Midnight Dream

Set Me as a Seal

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We ought to have been done with COVID-19, but the effects of “The Pandemic of the Century,” has had a lasting, profound psychological and sociological effect on humanity, even as the health of the species bounces back. Happily, we have been rescued (again) by poets, the very tribe that Plato – who disparaged them for relying on imagery at some distance from reality – would rather have nothing to do with in his Republic of Grecian times. But oh… how times have changed!

Former Poet Laureate of both the City of Toronto and the Canadian Parliament, George Elliott Clarke commissioned 15 Canadian members of this very (disparaged) tribe to lift our sinking hearts. The result is some edifying poems – including two of his own – the eloquence of which James Rolfe has turned to exquisite music. And so, our existential angst has been briefly assuaged, and Rolfe lifts our hearts with his Lieder. 

Wound Turned to Light dwells not in some forgotten utopia or impending dystopia, but in nature, dreams – broken and fulfilled – and in the mysticism of life and death asking, as Schiller once asked in Die Götter Griechenlands: “Schöne Welt, wo bist du?” (Beautiful world, where are you?). 

Alex Samaras does much of the lifting of Rolfe’s music with a combination of rich and lofty vocals in his singular, delicious tenor sound (cue Marigold). His mature insights into the lyrics are utterly convincing, all but eclipsing the celebrated Jeremy Dutcher who shines on Set me as a seal. Andrew Adridge is elegant on Bombastic. Pianist Lara Dodds-Eden is the uber-sensitive accompanist.

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