It’s fitting that Calgary’s Reuben Bullock describes his state of mind, and musical perspective, as simply going where the river takes him. In a time when most folk/roots acts feel as natural as salmon fishing in the Yemen, Bullock lets go of any expectations and floats with the current.

Bullock is a self-admitted work in progress, a man trying to build chemistry with his band and find his sound, but if Man Made Lake is any indication, he’s well on his way. With the help of a full band that understands his vision and the production skills of Lorrie Matheson, Bullock has evolved from a stripped down, singer songwriter into a much more dynamic artist.

Bullock still connects with listeners with intimacy and emotion, but when the band hits full stride (like they do on “How to Fight”, “Avails of Loneliness” or the infectious, almost spiritual opener, “Bow and Arrow”), the results are inspiring and hint at a much more accessible career. There are literally tens of people that want their artists to sing and strum out tunes so fragile that they upon the faintest touch (meekly raising my hand), but that road is one that Viggo Mortensen wouldn’t even chose to travel in today’s musical climate.

Bullock may not want bright lights, but honestly, the new sound he’s introducing could slotted into almost any prime time network drama and fit perfectly. While that be a turnoff for Fans of Bullock’s last record, fear not, he still offers up stark honesty and fragile moments. Man Made Lakes is just more about the band moving together seamlessly to create interesting textures that support Reuben’s voice. The dark, moody arrangement of “Burial” stands out, but every song the band offers up explores new terrain and uses subtle shifts and surprising vigor to win you over.

In my humble opinion, Man Made Lakes is one of the most pleasant surprises of the year, and a record that should be on your shelf.

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MP3:: Reuben Bullock - Bow and Arrow