GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS – ” The Waves, The Wake “

Posted: August 15, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , ,

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Toronto Canadian band Great Lake Swimmers have established their alluring sound through a combination of low-lit ambiance and celestial soundscapes, essential ingredients that have helped lend an atmospheric element to their wholly mellow musings. For their latest opus, titled The Waves, The Wake, these Juno Prize contenders operating under the leadership of chief helmsman Tony Dekker opted to take things down even further in terms of their unobtrusive settings.

The object was to record the album absent one of a key instrument: acoustic guitar. Presumably that means someone was on furlough, but as evidenced by the results, that timbre was barely missed at all. The band still manage to ply their lovely, if elusive, melodies, and if specific tracks—“The Talking Wind,” “In a Certain Light” and “Falling Apart”in particular

“The Talking Wind,” seems especially hushed, it’s merely an outgrowth of their usual unassuming approach. When asked about the new song, Dekker replied, “’Alone But Not Alone’ is a straighter shooter than some of the other tracks on the new album, with a little more of a familiar 12-string jangle, and it’s sort of a bridge back across our fifteen-year, seven-album catalogue. We set out to make a breezy, 1960’s AM radio inspired kind of thing, with a few twists and turns, because it seemed to be what the song was asking for, in the midst of experimenting with sounds for some of the other new songs. As for the lyrics, sometimes it can be easy to find yourself in a crowded place but still feel utterly alone. This song is a reflection on that sense of suffocating connectedness while still feeling disconnected at the same time. In the end it’s a pretty lonely place, but there’s a resolve to keep an open heart and mind.”

The shimmer that illuminate such songs as “Mouth of Flames” and “The Open Sea” are contrasted, albeit briefly, in the upbeat tick of “Alone But Not Alone” and the quiet insistence of “Side Effects,” but it’s the acapella “Visions of a Distant World” that best defines the effort overall. The album was recorded in the 145 year-old Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ontario, and given the environs, it gives some indication as to the sedate, worshipful nature of the songs.

While some may tend to interpret those twilight tones as a slumber fest, the overall beauty of The Waves further illuminates its charms. The delicate pluck of strings that resonates throughout “Holding Nothing Back” and “Unmaking the Bed” simulates the sound of a lullaby while underscoring melodies that are both elusive and surreal. Granted, it’s hardly the kind of thing one would play for guests at a wild party or as the prelude to a night out, but it resonates all the same. The Waves, The Wake is simply an extension of Great Lake Swimmers’ ongoing instincts, and in that regard, it finds them following through to until they realize those very last strokes.

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