love Neil Young's eponymous debut album from 1968. It is the most gorgeous, un-jadedly truthful rendering of the entirety of North American heel-spurrin', gun-slingin', whiskey-gluggin', bank-robbin', saloon-hoppin', wench-ridin', love-losin', land-grabbin' mythology as ironic, pseudo-honky tonk-country-folk-rock country. Okay, maybe that doesn't make total sense, but The Deep Dark Woods obviously knew what Young was about and brought it way, way forward in Winter Hours, recorded live off the floor.
I cannot help but fall in love with a band who knows, by instinct, how to judiciously apply the beautiful enviro-tones of the pedal steel, the banjo, and the tinkle of a jaunty piano to well-crafted songs. Added to this goodness is the distinctive vocal style of band-brain Ryan Boldt. I say distinctive, but not unique: Boldt has to know he sounds like Young circa 1968, especially on "The Birds on the Bridge".
The Deep Dark Woods do not fully escape my wrath. I will always skip over "Two Time Loser" as an appropriately-titled weak spot on the album that can only be described as a mock-up of a Tom Petty reject from a drunken Traveling Wilburys jam at a crappy State Fair. That hootch-belch aside, this album is rich in its rhythms and melodies and suggests a number of possible directions. If you like to visit weird places in Canadian roots music, get into The Deep Dark Woods and feel the world the way the Great White North feels it, at least in a Saskatoon winter.