12 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

A mainstay of Toronto’s alt-country scene, The Strumbellas manage to sound both rambunctious and reflective on their debut album. The seven-piece band fuses the bucolic mysticism of Gram Parsons with the crowd-rousing vigor of Mumford & Sons, keeping the emphasis on acoustic instrumentation and high-soaring harmony vocals. Frontman Simon Ward sings with a pang in his voice, returning again and again to themes of home, family, and mortality in his lyrics. The brooding quality of The Strumbellas’ tunes is balanced by the fierceness of their playing: Isabel Ritchie’s agile fiddle and James Oliver’s rippling banjo play especially crucial roles. Tracks like “The Sheriff,” “Lakes," and “Sailor’s Blues” are uptempo barn-burners, complete with shout-along choruses and stomping breakdowns. Ward’s droll wit (evident in “I Just Had a Baby” and “Pistol”) adds a welcome twist, while his more melancholy explorations (“Windsurfers,” “Diane”) are tender without descending into sentimentality. Cone McCaslin’s crisp production gives full exposure to The Strumbellas’ wide sonic range.

EDITORS’ NOTES

A mainstay of Toronto’s alt-country scene, The Strumbellas manage to sound both rambunctious and reflective on their debut album. The seven-piece band fuses the bucolic mysticism of Gram Parsons with the crowd-rousing vigor of Mumford & Sons, keeping the emphasis on acoustic instrumentation and high-soaring harmony vocals. Frontman Simon Ward sings with a pang in his voice, returning again and again to themes of home, family, and mortality in his lyrics. The brooding quality of The Strumbellas’ tunes is balanced by the fierceness of their playing: Isabel Ritchie’s agile fiddle and James Oliver’s rippling banjo play especially crucial roles. Tracks like “The Sheriff,” “Lakes," and “Sailor’s Blues” are uptempo barn-burners, complete with shout-along choruses and stomping breakdowns. Ward’s droll wit (evident in “I Just Had a Baby” and “Pistol”) adds a welcome twist, while his more melancholy explorations (“Windsurfers,” “Diane”) are tender without descending into sentimentality. Cone McCaslin’s crisp production gives full exposure to The Strumbellas’ wide sonic range.

TITLE TIME

More By The Strumbellas

You May Also Like