Try To Make It Fly
According to the accompanying press material, this Toronto-based band recorded an album’s worth of material, then set it aside because it lacked the live immediacy that the trio was after.
Whatever John Showman (vocals and fiddle), Chris Coole (vocals and clawhammer banjo), and vocalist/upright bassist Max Malone missed on that first go-round, they certainly captured this time around, on what is their sixth album and first with all-original material.
These all original songs, with their layered harmonies, inventive arrangements and intriguing production sonics, tend to pull listeners right in.
The Aces’ overall sound often seems bigger than the sum of its three parts on fine songs like the mysterious “The Echo” (which features a stellar vocal arrangement), the inspirational “Sweeter Sound,” the rollicking “You’ll Be There” and an elegant love ballad called “Come With Me Tonight,” which features some spot-on fiddle fills.
The powerful “Praying For Rain” paints images of a somber landscape devastated by wild fires, droughts and electrical storms. The sense of menace is so strong you can almost feel the sting of smoke in your eyes.
“Smoke On The Shoulder,” on the other hand, is a lighthearted and delicious musical recipe for home-smoked barbecue set to captivating music. “Simply Going Sideways” and “Midnight Band” are what you might call metaphysical travelogues with vivid commentaries on life’s unpredictable highway.
No doubt much of these song’s perspectives are drawn from the band’s history. Beginning in 2007, the three members spent seven years as the house band Toronto’s Dakota Tavern before venturing out on the touring circuit or into the studio.
This excellent collection is rounded out with three stalwart instrumentals: an old-time fiddle reel called “Lonesome Ace #1,” the Celtic-flavored “First Frost/Blue Grouse” and the minor-key “Crossing The Junction/Deer River,” which evokes the transcendental power of a sunrise on a misty mountain lake.