Secret Path

Secret Path

When Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2016, he knew his time was limited. Instead of letting his illness slow his productivity, he became more determined to finish not one but two solo albums: 2017’s Introduce Yerself, and, just prior to it, this hauntingly beautiful LP. Secret Path (and its attendant graphic novel and animated film) is inspired by the story of Chanie Wenjack, an Anishinaabe boy who died in 1966 after escaping one of Canada’s notoriously brutal residential schools. Recorded with the assistance of Broken Social Scene’s Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin, The Stills’ Dave Hamelin, Barenaked Ladies’ Kevin Hearn, and others, Downie, who died a year after the album was released, handles the delicate material with an originality and eloquence that echoes Radiohead and Arcade Fire. Built around rustic weavings of piano, guitar, and atmospheric drums, each song becomes an image overlaid with sorrow, horror, and tenderness.

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