Sound — 8
Canadian folk-pop trio Great Lake Swimmers deliver light billowing interludes of orchestral-winged Americana wreath by rootsy rock trimmings and ambient-country arches on their latest release Ongiara from Nettwerk Records. The album has an ethereal feel fastened to a prairie-land voicing in frontman/lead singer Tony Dekker's pitch, tethered to whispering acoustic-rock flutters from Erik Arnesen's guitar and banjo strokes, and fortified by the wispy bobbing wavelets made by drummer Colin Huebert. The trio's compositions are tranquil but burn with an intensity that is palpable. The drifting motion of the guitar strokes in Backstage With The Modern Dancers is reminiscent of Mindy Smith's pacifying conditions with quaint up-slopes along the chord transitions in the chorus parts. The soft-country swagger of the banjo's ligatures imprinting Your Rocky Spine show a boyish charm, and the gentle sway of Catcher Son is blanketed in sonically floating sensations emanating from the warm guitar tones. The songs move with the feather-light momentum of drowsy river reeds spruced with sparsely dense smoke-rings puffing languidly like fumes from a chimney stack. The trio shows a natural finesse for emulsifying harmonies like in There Is A Light, I Am Part Of A Large Family, and Put There By The Land, which are laden with country-soaked tenderness trussed in flowy acoustics and orchestral-pop rafters. GLS songs are moored by soft reverberating rustles that vacillate between cathedral-like choirs and campfire folk. The light fibrillating guitar strums of Where In The World Are You are thinly veiled in willowy violins radiating a cozy atmospheric as a jersey made of folkloric sounding chords move gracefully through Passenger Song and I Became Awake like a lazy river log floating down stream. There is something about GLS' music that makes one think of picturesque forests and soothing glades like their songs come from such serene places found in nature.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are elusive but quite warm-bloodied as the metaphors are molded into a poetic versing that expresses a voice coming from the libido like in Your Rocky Spine. The lyrics reflect, I was lost in the lakes / And the shapes that your body makes / That your body makes, that your body makes / The mountains said I could find you here / They whispered the snow and the leaves in my ear / I traced my finger along your trails / Your body was the map, I was lost in it / Floating over your rocky spine / The glaciers made you, and now you're mine / Floating over your rocky spine / The glaciers made you, and now you're mine / I was moving across your frozen veneer / The sky was dark but you were clear / Could you feel my footsteps / And would you shatter, would you shatter, would. And with your soft fingers between my claws / Like purity against resolve / I could tell, then and there, that we were formed from the clay / And came from the rocks for the earth to display / They told me to be careful up there / Where the wind blows a venomous rage through your hair / They told me to be careful up there / Where the wind rages through your hair.
Overall Impression — 8
Great Lake Summers new album Ongiara is hooked to a country-folk turbine which churns out orchestral-tinged Americana tones and acoustic-rock gusts. The album features special guest appearances by singer-songwriter Serena Ryder (backing vocals, autoharp), Bob Egan of Blue Rodeo (pedal steel and dobro), Sarah Harmer (backing vocals) and Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy and Arcade Fire (string arrangements). Additionally, Mike Overton (upright bass), Darcy Yates (electric bass), Mike Olsen (cello), and Mike Bonnell (organ) each lend their talents to the recording. Though Ongiara was mainly recorded in the Aeolian Hall in London, Ontario, the title of the album was taken from the Toronto Harbor boat that carried the band to their initial recording sessions on Toronto Island. Ongiara is GLS' third album, following their self-titled debut record in 2003 and their sophomore release Bodies And Minds in 2005. They were awarded the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Galaxie Rising Star Award in March 2005 and were voted Favorite Folk/Roots Artist at the 2004 Canadian Independent Music Awards. Great Lake Swimmers may not be a household name now, but their songs have the sonic appeal of Train and the melodic sensibilities of O.A.R. It's a potent combination that music fans gravitate to naturally when searching for some place to find sanctuary.