Gord Downie – Secret Path
Universal Music Canada
There’s no need for introduction to the terminally-ill Canadian rock legend Gord Downie. He and his band, The Tragically Hip, are easily one of the greatest Canadian rock groups of all time. Secret Path, however, is a solo project. In Secret Path, Downie tells us the story of Chanie Wenjack, an indigenous boy who died escaping a residential school 50 years ago.
In a press release accompanying the album, Downie tells us that “this is Canada’s story.” Residential schools are a dark part of our history that we rarely acknowledge, but it is essential to our identity as Canadians. There is no better musician who could possibly capture this pain, this sense of loneliness and confusion than Downie.
The title track is one that vividly describes the journey of Wenjack and is the best track on the album. Pounding, unrelenting drums propel each song forward into the next, making the album feel exactly as it should: a journey. The production on Secret Path is top-notch, but as it always is with Downie, it’s never really just about the chords and beats. The passion in the project is what pushes it into the realm of being one of the most essential Canadian albums in years. Downie and his brother, who helped with the album, are donating all proceeds to go towards healing the wounds caused by these residential schools.