Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Reviews:: Woodland Telegraph Sings Revival Hymns #1

One of the most beautiful things I’ve seen on either of my drives across the country is the area at the base of the Rocky Mountains. When you leave Calgary and keep heading west, the Rockies start to creep into view and with each turn of the odometer, they become more commanding.

Despite the huge shadow cast by the majestic stone walls staring at you proudly, the awe you feel is suppressed by the unbridled sense of joy and incredible relaxation that takes over your body as you watch the Kananaskis River meander lazily beside you and come face to face with herds of Rocky Mountain sheep and deer that believe they have as much right to be there as you.

I lived there for a while and at the time I really only listened to punk rawk and The Beastie Boys, but if I could have grabbed Doc Brown’s DeLorean and flux capacitor-ed ahead 2009, I think the new record from Woodland Telegraph - Sings Revival Hymns #1 - would have been a regular staple. Like the region itself, the influence of the mountains is unmistakable, but there is something more relaxed and jubilant about Matthew Lovegrove's songs.

When the banjo starts on On the Way & What We Found, you expect the feverish energy and foot stomps of a murder ballad or run in with the devil to be close on its heels. Instead, you get hit with uplifting harmonies that remove any of the weight and loneliness that often bogs down the genre and instead are hit with a refreshing dose of nostalgic bliss. Don’t get me wrong, Lovegrove isn’t looking back wondering if his best days are already behind him, he’s simply looking back because of the history and power the mountains stand for.

The rest of the record is equally successful, partly because of the accessibility of the roots anthems – the subtle accents of atmospheric folk, pop and just enough bite ( Flood those Spirits and Deadman’s Flat) to keep you from OD-ing on the pleasantries of the output - but more so because of the accessibility of the ideals. These are songs about Canada, built on open ended lyrics about time and place and time tested sounds. The alienation of a man looking out and seeing a light miles away is a desolation that has been covered by author’s for years – the whole record feels like Lovegrove’s own personal Big Sur – but he substitutes depression for clarity. Matthew’s thoughts are crisp and filled with hope, as are the arrangements that back them.

On tracks like Oil City Hotel, beautiful strings fill out the mix, but the band isn’t trying to add tension or drama. Woodland Telegraph opts to let the picked banjo and strings roam (and soar) and you quickly settle into the listen and want it to repeat over and over. It’s the feeling you get when you get out on the open road. It’s a pensive, inspired gaze across the vast openness that is the Midwest of Canada. Most importantly though, it’s fantastic music.

MP3:: Woodland Telegraph - Mountain Road
MYSPACE:: www.myspace.com/woodlandtelegraph

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Posted at 10:12 AM by ack :: 1 comments

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At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

This album is beautiful. Theres nothing better to listen to on a morning commute to work, or on a deck at a cottage enjoying a lovely landscape. It is the kind of music that has the power to alter the very course of a day. Hats off to you Mr.Lovegrove.


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