Any banjo aficionados out there had best take a few minute and check out The Small Glories’ video for “Had I Paid,” the first track off their debut release and one sure to tingle those twangy tastebuds. If nothing else, watching Cara Luft’s fingers fly on the instrument is certain to convince you it’s time for some serious banjo love in this world.
Luft’s part of an incredibly young two-piece with fellow Winnipegger JD Edwards. The duo have only been singing together for under a year but they’re already out with their debut album, Wondrous Traveler. And in case that video hadn’t convinced you, there’s not a trace of newbie stammer on a single one of the ten songs—a combination of both Luft and Edwards’ writing as well as a couple of covers—to be found.
And while “Had I Paid” toes it pretty close to The Civil Wars (along with closer “Wondrous Traveler”), there’s a whole slew of classic and contemporary folk and country to be sampled along the way. It’s growled and strained as it rolls through the old dustbowl of the Prairies before achingly sailing into the seafaring heartache of the east coast’s folk roots.
But there’s no rest for these travelers as they jump from genre. Even moving from the powerful opener into Luft’s temperate endurance on “Holding On,” the pair certainly aren’t keeping anything back as they evoke an entire world of displacement.
There’s some more classic-sounding country on “Fast Turning World” and a slowed-down punk approximation for “1000 Stars,” all anchored by the stunning compliment that is Luft and Edwards’ vocal harmony with each other. “Time Wanders On” is another brilliantly visual number, soaring above the Rockies and scorching the Prairie soil along with the sun.
Which is the real magic behind the perfectly named Wondrous Traveler as it charts its way across the country, a visual and aural journey deftly conveyed by the contrasting duo. Luft and Edwards are two traveling souls that may have taken a while to finally find each other, but it’s damn lucky for us their paths crossed.
Top Tracks: “Had I Paid”; “Time Wanders On”
Rating: Proud Hoot + *swoop*