Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Great Lake Swimmers: "A Forest of Arms" (album review)

Few bands are as reliable as Great Lake Swimmers.  You can count on the Toronto outfit to produce a solid album of melodic folk/roots music every couple of year.

Right on time, the band released their new record, A Forest of Arms, earlier this week.

The group comes charging right out of the gates with "Something Like a Storm".  It's a jangly folk number with sweet vocal harmonies on the 'la la la la la la-la' refrain.

Cuts like "A Bird Flew Inside the House", "A Jukebox In a Desert of Snow", and the bonus track "Talking In Sleep" serve up the kind of breezy melodies that we've grown accustomed to from GLS.

A couple of tracks give unique offerings.  The rapidly intensifying "One More Charge At the Red Cape" is the hardest rocking moment on the record.  "Zero In the City" manages to strike a delicate balance between lushness and earthiness with a wonderful banjo/cello/violin combination.

When GLS slow down the pace things get a tad boggy.  That's always been the case.  The slow songs just fail to hold my attention, and that continues here.  Songs like "With Every Departure", the sleepy "The Great Bear", and the chilly "Don't Leave Me Hanging" are ho-hum at best.

While A Forest of Arms gives us exactly what we've always gotten from Great Lake Swimmers, that is actually the problem.  The band hasn't branched off from their signature sound in quite some time, and it's beginning to make me question what is the point of additional albums.

Great Lake Swimmers play the Randolph Theatre in Toronto tomorrow and Friday.

Best tracks: "One More Charge At the Red Cape", "Something Like a Storm"

Track listing for A Forest of Arms:
  • Something Like a Storm
  • Zero In the City
  • Shaking All Over
  • Don't Leave Me Hanging
  • One More Charge At the Red Cape
  • I Was a Wayward Pastel Bay
  • A Bird Flew Inside the House
  • A Jukebox In a Desert of Snow
  • I Must Have Someone Else's Blues
  • The Great Bear
  • With Every Departure
  • Expecting You
  • Talking In Your Sleep

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