Review – J.R. Proctor

Album: Daydream Sommelier
Release Date: March 6, 2020
Genre: Country

Victoria, BC’s J.R. Proctor is out with his debut EP, Daydream Sommelier. This veteran of the Canadian folk scene has put together a record of five short songs that show off his years of experience writing and performing country and folk music across Canada. Daydream Sommelier is a smooth and serene listen all the way through its short run-time and touches on some interesting lyrical and musical themes along the way. What the record may lack in variety, it makes up for in solid songwriting and well-executed vocals and musicianship that is likely to help at least one song on the album make it onto the summer road-trip playlist.

The EP opens on “One White Rose”, a simple mid-tempo country tune with Proctor finger-picking a soft melody on his acoustic guitar while a snare drum keeps the beat and a lap steel guitar ties everything together with that classic western ambiance. The song is catchy and mellow and the lyrics are of a familiar folksy style that evokes strong Canadiana-style vibes. Fortunately and unfortunately, this of track sets the tone for the rest of the record as the rest of the songs don’t stray far from this approach. The promise of anything verging on bluegrass is unfortunately lost on this record. “Golden Embers” picks up the pace a little bit and features a touch of violin to give a little more to the folk-influence on the album. “Six Days in December” is the definite standout on the record, as the song tells the story of the Halifax Explosion, specifically from the perspective of train dispatcher Vince Coleman, who gave his life to halt the incoming trains bound for Halifax. The song is soft and emotional, and despite the backing provided by his band, Proctor’s evocative, descriptive lyrics make it feel as though he’s telling the story to you face-to-face like he was really there. The record closes out on “City of Glass” which is another good, mellow country song, but doesn’t offer much new to album, nor does it do much to send it off either.

J.R. Proctor’s debut EP, Sommelier Daydream, is a solid collection of some good, simple Canadian country music. It may not break any new ground or have a chart-topping hit single, but it is nonetheless a quality record that shows off the work of a very talented musician and lyricist that surely has a lot more to offer in the coming years.

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