Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Great Lake Swimmers: "New Wild Everywhere" (album review)

I'd be lying if I didn't say that Great Lake Swimmers have made some of the most beautiful, melodic roots/folk based music of the last decade.  However, I would also be lying if I didn't admit that the band needed to be a little more adventurous in order to keep their sound from becoming stale.

They strike a pretty good balance on their new album New Wild Everywhere.

Songs like "Think That You Might Be Wrong", with it's familiar vocal harmonies and string accompaniment, should be comforting to long-time fans.  The pastoral banjo-fed "Fields of Progeny" and the east coast vibe of "Ballad of a Fisherman's Wife" strike that chord as well.

The adventure comes from new uptempo (okay uptempo for them) numbers.  The title track delivers just enough rock with a memorable melody.  "Changes With the Wind" is a full on hoe-down, juxtaposed with Tony Dekker's restrained vocals.

The album highlight is undoubtedly the first single "Easy Come Easy Go".  It may very well be the breeziest, catchiest track of the year so far.  It seems perfectly poised to become the soundtrack for my summer listening.

Increasingly, Dekker's vocals are complemented with more prominent backing vocals which enhance the already strong harmonies.  The band even go as far as to employ a full duet on the soothing "The Knife".

Typically Great Lake Swimmers album have taken several listens to properly unfold.  At first blush the songs often sound very similar, but with additional exposure, each one reveals it's unique identity.  Unfortunately, there are a few tepid cuts on New Wild Everywhere ("On the Water", "Quiet Your Mind", "Cornflower Blue"), that never really distinguish themselves.

Personally, I would've liked to hear Great Lake Swimmers take an even bigger step out of their comfort zone.  However, it is hard to argue with beautiful songs.

Great Lake Swimmers play the Music Hall in Toronto on June 2nd.

Best tracks: "Easy Come Easy Go", "Changes With the Wind"

Track listing for New Wild Everywhere:
  • Think That You Might Be Wrong
  • New Wild Everywhere
  • The Great Exhale
  • The Knife
  • Changes With the Wind
  • Cornflower Blue
  • Easy Come Easy Go
  • Fields of Progeny
  • Ballad of a Fisherman's Wife
  • Quiet Your Mind
  • Parkdale Blues
  • On the Water
  • Les Champs de Progeniture

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