New Wild Everywhere: Great Lake Swimmers – Album Review

“Think That You Might Be Wrong” is that sweet song that’s playing when you walk into the prom late because you were getting drunk and fooling around with the love of your Life in the park nearby. Turns out it’s the last song of the night, but at least you got to dance.

Even though it feels like the end of something, that one song is just the beginning of a New Wild Everywhere. As you shake off the bitter sweetness of that first ending, you kiss that love goodbye, pack your bags and hit the road. That initial pang of heartbreak remains, and it always will, but it will fade, and deep down, you know things are really just getting started. “There’s a new wild feeling dancing in the air / There’s a new wild everywhere.”

Great Lake Swimmers’ fifth full-length, released April 3 on Nettwerk, is almost impossible to hear without listening. Know what I mean? It’s not background music. You don’t want to miss a word because you know there’s something being said here. It’s a nice change from the lot of unmemorable, seemingly heartless acts currently glutting the folk/label/beard/whatever market right now (I’m so tired of @#$% genre labels, don’t get me started). I like whiskey, plaid and the outdoors as much as the next guy, but it doesn’t mean I want to hear everybody’s buddy sing about it. I know, I know – most of them aren’t trying to impress anybody, man, they’re just singin’ because they wanna sing… maaan. Well, good. Mission accomplished.

Shining like a diamond in the beard are Great Lake Swimmers, a group from Southern Ontario (currently based in Toronto), led by lead singer and songwriter Tony Dekker. They’re on the verge of celebrating the decade anniversary of their self-titled first album. I actually remember the buzz around them in Ottawa back then (Julian, you fore-thinker, you), but for some reason, I decided it wasn’t my thing. Today, I wish I would have decided otherwise, so I could be that guy you hate that “knew them back in the day”, and saw the third show ever, and shook Tony’s hand, and got a set list, and found a pick, and finished the beer Tony left behind and… well, you get the picture.

If New Wild Everywhere doesn’t end up making Great Lake Swimmers one of our Canadian greats, I don’t know what will. Not to say that we’re ignoring them here in Canada – their previous effort Lost Channels was shortlisted for the 2009 Polaris Music Prize and was nominated for a Juno. Good for them, it’s well deserved. The masterful craft displayed on New Wild Everywhere might just be what helps them clinch a title.

This is one of the few albums I’ll pass on to my parents and know they’ll dig; it’s one thing for us to fall in love with legendary artists our parents listened to, which happens all the time, but what about the other way around? I’m hoping to return the favour with this recommendation.

The lead single “Easy Come Easy Go” is viciously clawing its way up my personal Favourite Tunes of 2012 list. It makes me want to hit the highway in a convertible and head to Everywhere. It really is something of an archetypal single, it’s so catchy (the kind that never gets old) and just… so… freakin’ good! See? It’s so catchy I’m getting mad.

I won’t ruin all the surprises. You can pick up New Wild Everywhere at your local record shop, right here, or if you’re lucky enough to live in a tour city, just pick it up when they stroll into town.

Great Lake Swimmers are in Europe right now, but they’re coming back to the West in May to tour parts of the States and Canada. They’re playing The Royal on Baker in Nelson on May 9, the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver on May 11, and Alix Goolden Hall on in Victoria on May 12.

 

Ah ouin, pi pour les Canayens-français, y’a même une toune en français – “Les Champs de Progéniture”. Beau ça!