Canadian singer-songwriter Kiefer Sutherland released his debut album, Down in a Hole, in August last year and I have to confess that I didn’t cover it because … well, I thought he wouldn’t need the coverage. Sutherland’s name will be familiar to anyone who has watched television or been to the movies over the last three decades or so – yet in thinking he wouldn’t need extra attention, I missed the fact that he actually can write and sing a very good song.
Proof of that may be found in the latest single, ‘Shirley Jean’. The song is also proof, if more were needed, that Sutherland knows his country music. It’s clear from the construction of lyrics and the way he sings them that he’s storyteller and that country music has been his natural home for those stories. His voice has been compared to Johnny Cash’s and it has some of that sense of a life hard lived, although Sutherland’s voice has a softer tone, which gives this tale of a death-row missive an unlikely sense of hope.