A posthumous farewell to one of Canada’s most well known rock singers, Gordon Downie’s final album, “Introduce Yourself,” is a fun but melancholy piece of art. The former lead singer of the Canadian alternative rock outfit The Tragically Hip, Downie has had a long and successful career spanning 14 albums with The Tragically Hip and six solo albums. In late 2016, he was diagnosed with an inoperable Glioblastoma (brain tumor), which he died from on Oct. 17.
Released 10 days after the singer/songwriter’s death, “Introduce Yourself” is chock-full of crooning ballads of indie splendor, blending genres of folk, rock, disco and indie to create a 23-song catalog of Downie’s last thoughts.
The album overall is softer than many of his earlier works, both with The Tragically Hip and his solo projects, but the softened edges reflect his state of mind towards the end of his life. Each song paints a picture of a specific point in Downie’s life and a specific person who left a lasting impact with him. The song “Bedtime” carries Downie’s light tenor voice over a hauntingly sad piano piece, describing a young father taking care of a child in the late hours of the morning. “Spoon”, talks about a relationship between two people who bond over the band of the same name. “Wolf’s Home” is a thumping indie track that tells in an almost fairy tale fashion of an individual (the wolf) in a state of self-reflection with his family. “Far away and Blurred” is a Bon-Iver like piece of music in which the light piano floats like snow above the storied lyrics about the trials and tribulations of a relationship. Each song goes on like this, as unique as the lyrical poetry that accompanies it. The most obvious difference between this album and his earlier works is the gorgeous piano soundscape and overall lack of many supporting instruments. To compare, Downie’s first solo album “Coke Machine Glow” fit well into the late 80s work of The Tragically Hip and felt more like an R.E.M. album. This album seems to remove itself from that track and instead acts as the final, courteous bow of a brilliant man at his end.
All in all, it is a solid album with many gem tracks throughout and it holds as strong as Downie’s legacy surely will.