Published January 05, 2006.Bruce CockburnSpeechless(True north)Bruce Cockburn is one of this country’s finest songwriters. And nearly every album from his two-decade-plus career has featured at least one instrumental track. But most of the time, these pieces have taken a backseat to his political activism and devout lyricism. Speechless is a CD devoted entirely to his instrumental recordings. Cockburn’s guitar work has always been spectacular — heavily rooted in folk traditions yet influenced by classical and jazz phrasings — and for many is the cornerstone of his genius. Listening to “Sunwheel Dance” (1971) and the playful “Foxglove” (’73), alongside “Mistress of Storms” (’96), the haunting “Deep Lake” (’99) or the two new songs recorded especially for this release, it is evident how far his artistry has evolved. —Dave Hayden

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