Zachary Lucky’s The Ballad of Losing You is unapologetically anachronistic in every sense, save for the presumably modern medium through which you hear it. Swooning pedal steel, dobro, fiddle, piano, banjo and bass eloquently fill the canvas around Lucky’s gently strummed six-string, but it’s the robust, world-worn manner and clarity of Lucky’s voice that is the subtle marvel of the album. Dubbed “The Laureate of the Lonesome Song,” Lucky is an acclaimed veteran on the Canadian folk scene (The Ballad of Losing You is his sixth release).
Lucky’s songs have lived lifetimes. They sit you down, tell you their stories and heighten your senses to the wonders of nature, love and self. Lucky’s previous album, 2012’s Saskatchewan, was a nostalgic ode to his prairie home, while he roots The Ballad of Losing You in crisp country-western beauty and English folk-ballad tradition.
The result is an elegant, forlorn album immersed in the timeless spirit of Townes Van Zandt. It’s fitting then that Lucky both name-checks Townes’ “Waitin’ for the Day” (on the stunning “Woke Up”) and circles back around to cover that very tune five songs later. Singing “I woke up just wishing to be / just lost on the road or lost in a dream / with you by my side and Townes on the radio / just singing something about / waiting for the day,” Lucky goes on to daydream his ex-lover and him driving and singing along to Bob Dylan’s “Song to Woody.”