Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Dinner Belles: "The River & The Willow" (album review)

All of a sudden southern Ontario has become a hotbed for roots music that's not only not boring, but in fact incredibly engaging and vibrant.  Joining the likes of the Strumbellas are Hamilton's Dinner Belles, who release their sophomore album, The River & the Willow, on October 28th.

You can't start much stronger than with the deliciously twangy "Back Home (In the Valley)", a song that sounds custom-built for playing at a jamboree.  Add foot-stomping ditties like "Wandering Eye" and "Ocean" and the ho-down is in full flight.

Harmonies play a big role in Dinner Belles' music.  Nowhere is that more prominent than on the melodic multi-voiced "I Might Do Everything Wrong", which throws in some tickled ivories for good measure.

The record is an amazing set of organic feeling Canadiana (check out "Be Good To the Earth" as a highlight of that).  There's almost a spiritual thread that connects tracks like "Long Day's Journey" to Mother Nature.  The most introspective moment comes in the form of the Justin Townes Earle-esque title track.

Quite frankly, 2014 has yielded precious few records as delightful as The River & the Willow.  Dinner Belles deserve a lot of consideration for year end best of lists as a result.

Best tracks: "Back Home (In the Valley)", "(I Ain't So) Sonny Boy"

Track listing for The River & The Willow:
  • Back Home (In the Valley)
  • I Might Do Everything Wrong
  • Wandering Eye
  • River and The Wind
  • Be Good To the Earth
  • Long Day's Journey
  • Speed River
  • Ocean
  • (I Ain't So) Sonny Boy
  • Same Mistake
  • No Good

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