Michael Brennan: Portrait of a cautious man who sings the truth Michael Brennan is a big man. Looks a little ragged, like many people who teach for a living, have wives and families, and don't drive late model cars fresh off GM's production lines. But, as the saying goes, don't judge a book by the cover. Michael Brennan is on stage, fronting his crack edgy country band, The Wayward Angels, with some of the best musicians in Toronto. He's in charge and suddenly the attention is on a voice that rumbles and trembles, and on songs that are as true and direct as the man who is singing them. Michael Brennan is the voice of REAL country music in Toronto. "Country" with edge, true stories, full of honest characters who've loved and lost more often than they've won. There's sentiment here, but not much sentimentality. He's seen too much; this is the sort of guy who's been there and done that - and survived. Michael Brennan's story: Cape Breton, Nova Scotia born and raised, moved from the salt air to Toronto's smog, settled down, and formed The Wayward Angels. Four years of hard graft in bars and clubs, and, finally, one well-received and well-reviewed CD. Writers described the self-titled Angels' CD as "strong-armed country rock with a touch of rockabilly" and "powerful" (the latter from a Belgian music magazine). Six years later - with vitally important time in between to raise a family, dig into a teaching career (math is his specialty), and write more songs - Brennan is back. Cautious Man is a collection of 11 of those songs, recorded with his core band: Dave Tufford (Melody Ranch) on guitars, John Adames (Prarie Oyster) on drums and Dennis Pinhorn (Downchild) on bass. Icing on the cake came from studio stalwarts Michael "Pepe" Francis (Rita MacNeil, Stan Rogers), Ray Parker (Shania Twain, kd Lang), Roly Platt (Dutch Mason, Matt Minglewood), and Neil Donell (Caitlan Hanford, Doug Riley). And, perhaps most importantly, Cautious Man is a showpiece for the inspired skills of producer Chad Irschick, who worked with one eye on the heart of the songs - all Brennan originals - and the other on the elements grownup radio wants the listeners to hear and relate to. Not that a single record will necessarily change Brennan's life. In some ways, he is a cautious man, and he'll hang on to his day job. But now that his kids are growing up he's got more time to hit the clubs and the bars where the rubber hits the road and the real people who love this music dance and drink and sing along and understand the things he's singing about. And he is going for it. But musically he's not being cautious - as he sings on the CD's last cut: "Such an endless highway, such a twisted road, so full of holes, such an endless highway of gold..."