Produced by Michael Timmins (Cowboy Junkies) in the intimacy of his Toronto Roncesvalle studio, the humanity of the album is like the warmth of blood that rushes to the cut: a sudden alive jolt in the middle of peril and uncertainty; a suspension of possibility that anything can happen next. Redolent with swooning horns and guitars that bob and weave, Lee Harvey Osmond’s voice – forever the hallmark of his sound which spans over three decades of work – sounds, here, like a warm hand to the forehead, an arm on the arm of the stricken, a comforting growl at the heart of a screaming world.
At once evoking Howlin’ Wolf, Mike Scott and Roy Loney, Beautiful Scars bends and twists and stretches and squeezes Lee Harvey Osmond’s deep baritone – the producer treating it as if caged in a transistor radio, bathed in echo from above, or sunk in the muck of distortion. The strength of the songs notwithstanding, Beautiful Scars is a fascinating vocal journey to rank among the great sonic Canadian records of our time.
Through the truncheon swing of “Loser For Your Love” to the haunting balladry of “Come And Go” to the morose beauty of “How Does It Feel” to the exotic fusion of the album’s penultimate track, “Black Spruce,” Beautiful Scars journeys between the quiet, smouldering, raging, moving, and sad. Lyrically, Lee Harvey Osmond reflects on the mistakes of the singer’s past with the resigned perspective of someone coming through the other side. A song like “Hey, Hey, Hey”, featuring a thrilling slide guitar piece by Aaron Goldstein (Elliot BROOD, City And Colour, Cowboy Junkies) describes two lovers caught in the throes of personal despair, their “dreams turned to rust,” their lives waiting until “the morning comes and sweeps us both away.” Lee Harvey Osmond sings: “The world is fucked up. And so are you and I.” It defines an album, and a songwriter, bereft of any choices other than to keep moving for fear of sinking into the mire of a dark past.
Beautiful Scars is the third solo album from Tom Wilson’s Lee Harvey Osmond and follows two albums, A Quiet Evil and The Folk Sinner which were previously longlisted for the Polaris Prize and nominated for a Juno. In addition to releasing another album, Tom Wilson has recently signed a deal with Random House for the publishing of his first book. Lee Harvey Osmond heads for Canada’s West Coast for a string of dates with Colin James beginning on March 24. All tour dates are listed below.