You can learn a lot about yourself and the place you’re living by walking. In Toronto—which Matt Cully and Misha Bower of EONS, a Bruce Peninsula side project, call their home—you can walk for hours and hours without leaving the city limits. You’ll pass by parks, bodies of water, run-down shops, shopping malls and beautiful architecture. You’ll see new things and maybe form new, cherished memories as you revisit them.
A sense of place turns a good folk album into a great one. For EONS, the place is always moving. A walk is the framework for the record, both in lyrical content and the kind of music Cully wants to make. Sometimes, it’s someone else who is walking, other times he is revisiting places that mean a lot to him. He’s also wanders away from straight folk music from time to time, and these digressions are the eureka moments of the album. But that doesn’t mean Cully doesn’t write some beautiful, beautiful folk songs.
Case in point, the beginning point of the walk and the album, “How Long Will You Roam.” Martha Farquhar-McDonnell begins the song singing, before Cully joins in with a picked guitar and his own voice. The two voices colliding are beautiful and haunting, and it’s clear that the “you” in this song won’t be coming back any time soon — unless the other person can drown the moon, lift the sun and torch the heavens.
The next song (and first album single) “White Feather Roses” brings in electric guitars, as though the walking path has curved just a little. The love story of this song spans many years. After the roses, Cully and Bower are in “Leslie Spit.” The sense of place is especially strong here. Cully’s description of the place gets specific after a few broader markers: “Follow the curve of the river, rest by the old oak tree, stand on a staircase that leads nowhere.”
After the brief digression from the path to hear the nature-y sounds of “Waxwings on Waxwings,” a well of power builds up in “Two By Two.” Subtly, Cully and Bower weave a hypnotic song, which is almost a folk version of Radiohead’s “Sit Down. Stand Up.” right down to the heavenly repetition of “Oh the wind and rain” to close the song.
At a few points in the album, Cully and Bower leave the main path and go down a new one. “Big Bang Blues” is one such time, where the song slowly builds up to a dramatic chorus. “We’ll hold the universe in the palm of our hands,” Cully and Bower sing, before the instruments get loud right after they sing “If there’s violence in you…” Another off-path journey is “Go It Alone,” which Bower alone takes vocals on. “We spin around like an old 45,” she laments, and the song builds into the biggest groove on the record.
Having reached the end of the path and contemplated the beginning of the universe, the only thing left for Cully and Bower to ponder is infinity itself. Cue “Receipts For Infinity,” a folk lullaby with a twinkling of keys to bring the songs out of the Earth and into space. EONS and infinity just go so well together, don’t they?
Long Walks will be available on Bruce Trail Records on Nov. 4.
Top Tracks: “How Long Will You Roam”; “Big Bang Blues”
Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*