Beyond the Ear Blog
after criss-crossing the nation on tour since late two thousand and seven in support of their album, hang me, oh, hang me, the deep dark woods of saskatoon found themselves holed up in a studio late last year with juno award winning producer/musician steve dawson to hammer out their latest effort, winter hours, which just hit the shelves and online retailers on february seventeenth. the album was recorded in dawson's vancouver studio the factory where they spent the first half of their two weeks laying down the tracks live off the floor, including vocals, which has resulted in a record sounding tight and honest. "recording with steve was a lot of fun and way more relaxed than any other recording experience we've had" explains the bands drummer lucas goetz. "on our first album, we did alot of the songs live as well, but having the lead vocals done live this time really helped to capture the real feeling of the songs".
the album tends to a subdued feeling described as an ode to the depressing winters of the north with a few sparks of amped up playfulness dropped throughout. the opening track, farewell, instantly drags the listener into the dreary, mournful tone of the song with the tenuous shakiness of ryan boldt's pressing of the lyrics, followed by the track nancy which kicks off with a riff of the fiddle and launches into one of the more upbeat tracks on the record.
"can't you hear the willows weekping
can't you hear them as they moan
they're taking away my body,
in the spring when the rivers flow"
the album continues to grow with each track and you settle yourself easily into the warming loneliness of the album with it's emotionally charged sound and feel backed by tight, rich harmonies that hold time honoured tradition deep. just as you begin to get a glimpse of what is to come you are blindsided with songs like polly and the birds on the bridge, which stand out on their own as solid tracks but adrift from the earlier set tone of the album and then you are brought back to the earlier themes with the songs as i roved out, the gallows and the winter hours. the final track on the disk begins with slow rolling blues influence that steadies in with boldt's voice lamenting that the sun never shines. the song builds on from this foundation and happens into one of the stand out performances on the record that is honestly quite stunning as it becomes relentless and continues to reel you in with the raw emotionally charged guitar playing backed by a solid backdrop of sound.
it is a compelling listen that deserves your ear.