A little while back I reviewed Richard Laviolette and the Oil Spills, remarking on how their music had such as strong sense of community. Well, if Richard Laviolette and co. are a community, then the Gertrudes, based out of Kingston, Ont., are a small town or city.
The band itself consists of ten members, and there are so many special guests that I lost count trying to come up with an exact number. Not only are their individuals guest-starring, but there are also orchestras and other Kingston bands.
The crazy number of musicians on this record make it a real treat to listen to and often make it extremely unpredictable. Nailing down the Gertrudes to one genre is pretty tough, since there are elements of folk, rock and country among others.
“Wind From the South” is a song that could be classified as rock, although it adds in numerous vocal harmonies and even a mini trombone solo.
“Freight Train” is the most easily categorized song- it has a very distinct country feel, and the song is frantically-paced in both music and vocals. It’s no wonder the song has the title is has.
“Sailor” is where things start to get really unpredictable. While it starts out with a somewhat nautical-sounding melody and lyrics about the sea, the end will absolutely blow you away. Hint, the epic sounds of PS I Love You (the band, not the movie) will be making an appearance.
Following this song is “You Don’t Mind” which stands on its own from every other track- while virtually every song is very dense with all kinds of vocals and compositions involving banjos, guitars and trombones, this song is very sparse. It consists of just a simple drum and guitar, with the vocals even coming across really softly.
“Black Bird and the Cedar” takes the acoustic folk route but morphs into an orchestral piece while “The Gertrudes” adds a choir of children’s voices.
This album is pretty much superb- every aspect of the music seems controlled even in its unpredictability, and I have a feeling this band puts on a hell of a live show as well.
Top Tracks: “Warm Wind From the South”; “Sailor”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent+ +*swoop*