While The Deep Dark Woods' third album Winter Hours provides the perfect soundtrack for hard economic times and cold Prairie climes, the Saskatoon roots quartet's latest effort was largely written in B.C. long before the markets recoiled
The lush steel-guitar tones and lyrics in "All the Money I Had Was Gone" are hauntingly topical, but drummer Lucas Goetz points out the song is about songwriter Ryan Boldt's own life. Boldt wrote most of the album when his family moved from Saskatoon to B.C.
His homesick pining emerges in "How Can I Try," and the title track, the only song to actually reference winter.
Goetz says the album is much more mellow and melancholy than previous records.
"It's a lot more reflective and pretty sad," he says with an ironic laugh.
It's not that Boldt, Goetz, guitarist Burke Barlow and bassist Chris Mason are trying to inflict sorrow upon listeners as they wait out the cold clutches of winter, but "The Gallows" and "The Sun Never Shines" have the potential to do just that.
"We're not really deliberately trying to make people feel a certain way," says Goetz.
"If I'm feeling a certain way, I find it therapeutic to listen to songs that have that same feeling. For me it's a positive thing, in a funny way."
With Juno-award winning producer/musician Steve Dawson at the production helm, the band hunkered down in Vancouver for a week at The Factory and another week in Dawson's studio The Henhouse. Goetz says working with Dawson has been one of the band's career highlights.
"It was a great experience; we learned a lot and came out with an album we really like. It was a lot more relaxed than any other recording experience."
The coastal environment was also helpful in setting the mood for some songs.
"When recording songs that are heavier, we wait for that mood to happen to tackle those songs. You have to be more sombre in your mood and Vancouver's pretty easy to get to that state; it's pretty dreary at times."
Looking back at the band's self-titled release in 2006 and 2007's Hang Me, Oh Hang Me, Goetz thinks there are many things he would have done differently, but those sonic bobbles also show how much the band has grown.
"We're much better I think musically, individually and as a group; we play better together. I think all of our singing has improved and Ryan's songwriting has improved too."
Adding new influences like Waylon Jennings, Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen has also impacted the band's work.
"Especially with this album, it's a little more folky."
When it comes to the live show, The Deep Dark Woods don't stick within the roots and folks genres. During the Regina CD release party on Saturday, fans can expect a lively performance.
"The live show tends to be more of a rock show," Goetz says.
The essence of the album won't be lost though.
"There are still those mellow songs," he promises.