Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Red Moon Road: "Red Moon Road" (album review)

One of the big knocks on roots music is that it can tend to sound all the same after a while.

If anyone wants to dispel that notion, one only needs to look to the self-titled debut album from Winnipeg trio Red Moon Road.  The record, out March 17th, illustrates just how varied and rich roots music can be when it's done well.

You get banjo-driven stompers ("Do Or Die", "Qu'allons-nouse faire?"), lush wind-through-the-wheat numbers ("Demons"), lilting maritime-flavoured ditties ("Why He Left The Ocean"), and everything in between.

The tender songs definitely the band's forte.  "Where My Heart Is" is a weepy Dala-style pastoral, framed lovingly by the arrangement.  Soothing harmonies mask the dark subject matter of "Come Home" by intoxicating you with its beauty.

Primary singer Sheena Rattai has a broad range.  At times she can be powerful, other times she is absolutely beautiful in her melodies.  It's a range and timbre that is reminiscent of another Canadian folk/roots gem, Basia Bulat (particularly on a song like "Liesel Friedl").

The album's standout, however, is not sung by Rattai.  Instead it's the humourous honky tonker "Private Love".  It's a tale of a 'cold as ice' woman that could very well be the "She Ain't Pretty" for the hillbilly set.  That sense of humour strikes again on the saloon singalong "Hypothetical Girl".

Red Moon Road serves as more of a survey of the band's abilities and range rather than a cohesive album.  That's not a weakness though.  It shows a breadth of style and a confidence that has you wanting to hear so much more from the band.

Best tracks: "Private Love", "Hypothetical Girl"

Track listing for Red Moon Road:
  • Do Or Die
  • Where My Heart Is
  • Private Love
  • Come Home
  • Liesel Friedl
  • Lingering
  • Demons
  • Why He Left The Ocean
  • Qu'allons-nous faire?
  • Hypothetical Girl

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