NOT GUILTY, CHING MUSIC
Paul Langlois’s role as rhythm guitarist in the Tragically Hip often takes a backseat to the theatrics of lead singer Gordon Downie and the wide-ranging solos that lead guitarist Bobby Baker provides. But on Not Guilty, Langlois’s second solo release, his rusty, blue-collar approach is front and centre. There is a greater sense of patience in his husky drawl, a step up from the timid, somewhat standoffish approach he took on Fix This Head, his debut. It wouldn’t be fair to call a release from a lifelong musician pushing 50 a “mature” record, but Langlois is certainly coming into his own as a songwriter.
Naturally, it’s easy to hear the Tragically Hip in many of the songs, from the driving title track to the polite sway of “Everything We Were,” but we’re only hearing the deft touch that Langlois has clearly added on every one of their records. The changes he does employ to the Hip’s sound are amped up on Not Guilty: namely, his country leanings such as on the rolling, twangy “Table’s Been Set,” or the bar-room pogo that is “Watching You.” Whereas recent Hip records sound muddled at times, Langlois has satiated the hunger of fans of classic, no-frills bar rock. Langlois’s lyrics cut with a genuine delivery that, at times, comes off as too obvious or pandering. Yet at least you know what you’re getting with Langlois – honesty in his songwriting and his approach.
By Joshua Kloke