Great Lake Swimmers

Folk/Bluegrass
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Editorial Review

GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS
Album review: "New Wild Everywhere"
By Dan Miller
Friday, May 25, 2012

Canada’s Great Lake Swimmers has won wide admiration for its country-inflected folk, music that seems timeless because of the way the band tackles big ideas lyrically and opts for an old-fashioned aesthetic. The group often records its albums out in the field -- an abandoned grain silo, a
castle, etc.

The band entered a traditional studio to record its fifth album, “New Wild Everywhere,” yet it doesn’t stray far from its folk roots. But ultimately, for all its sincerity, the album seems a bit staid and lacks a certain bite to really connect with listeners.

Opening track “Think That You Might Be Wrong” sets the album’s tone with soft drumming, pretty harmonies and understated string accompaniment. But for a song that seems intended to burn slow, there’s not much fire to help it smolder.

Generally, Great Lake Swimmers does quiet and pensive better than energetic and loose. Tony Dekker’s drowsy tenor thrives in slow to mid-tempos. His voice is a fragile instrument -- refined more for reflective crooning than for rousing, brisk songs. He seems more at home on the swaying “Cornflower Blue” or the pastoral “Fields of Progeny” (although the band misfires on the lullaby “The Knife”).

The band turns up the volume and picks up the pace on such tracks as “Changes With the Wind” or “Easy Come Easy Go,” which fuses classic rock harmonies with alt-country fiddle, but these songs don’t seem to come as naturally.