Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams
Canadian songwriter Corin Raymond’s love of words began in the car with his father, driving the endless jack-pined distances of Northern Ontario. His father would wrap up library books in newspaper, like presents, to be handed out over the trip, or he’d tell Corin Greek myths to pass the hours on the road. For Corin, this began a lifelong love affair with words and stories that led him to become an acclaimed songwriter and an ardent student of songcraft. Like a Johnny Appleseed of song, Corin has traveled the length and breadth of Canada, down into the States, over to the UK, Europe, and Australia, planting his songs as he goes, then coming back around later to see how they’ve grown. With his new album, Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams, he’s created his finest collection yet; most of them collaborations with other songwriters, and all of them marked by Corin’s literate populism. These songs were written on the road, infused with the kind of afternoon restfulness found in an old hobo jungle, or rife with the rapid-fire wordsmith of a fever dream.
Recorded in Toronto in 2015 and produced by Canadian guitarist and songwriter David Gillis, Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams projects Corin’s songs onto a larger screen, incorporating electrified textures and full-band arrangements that push his folk-roots into new realms, like grindhouse juke-joint blues (“Best Demented Cowgirl Face”), honky-tonk talking blues (“Two Miles of Train”), or harmony-drenched soul (“Under the Belly of the Night”). Throughout, Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams is distinguished by Corin’s storytelling. He has an eye for the smallest details that carry the most meaning. In “Morning Glories,” he describes a neighborhood fixture: “He’s a liquor store strummer, he’s a half-a-block howler / he’s the sound of my summer, he’s a ‘Dead Flowers’ growler / he’s a sidewalk street singer, a Baldwin Spadina / old resonator slinger, and a drunken John Priner.” In “Hard on Things,” he strings a litany of these details into an all-too-relatable confession: “I’ve worn out two gold wedding rings, ‘cause I’m hard on things.” With “The Law and the Lonesome” (co-written with Jonathan Byrd, who titled his 2008 album after the song), Corin crafts a cinematic vignette where “the snow’s like the ghost of cocaine on the highway / it shifts and plays tricks on your mind.” The characters in Corin’s songs flash by like faces illuminated in passing car headlights, revealing just enough to draw the listener in.
Hobo Jungle Fever Dreams is larger than life, but it’s also intimately tied to our everyday connections. That’s the reason Corin Raymond is such a great folk singer. He understands what a song can mean, and how they travel between people. “It’s a breathing, living organism that is constantly re-inspiring itself,” Corin says. “That’s what makes folk music so beautiful. It brings people together and it’s people who carry it from place to place, the way information moves between hobo jungles. It’s a network, a web. It’s amazing. I love it.”