New Music: Great Lake Swimmers, Ongiara

Great Lake Swimmers are a Toronto based folk/rock band led by singer/songwriter Tony Dekker.  Their self titled first record was recorded in a silo in Ontario.  This sounds like my kind of band in more ways than one.

Their newest record, Ongiara, was released in May.  One look at the people and instruments on the album tells me I’m in for a treat:

Tony Dekker (voice, guitar), Erik Arnesen (banjo, electric guitar) and Colin Huebert (drums, percussion, glockenspiel, timpani), guest appearances by Serena Ryder (backing vocals, autoharp), Bob Egan of Blue Rodeo (pedal steel and dobro), Sarah Harmer (backing vocals) and Owen Pallett of Final Fantasy and Arcade Fire (string arrangements). Mike Overton (upright bass), Darcy Yates (electric bass), Mike Olsen (cello), and Mike Bonnell (organ).

glsong The first song, Your Rocky Spine (MP3 clip), is a mellow mid-tempo number with a great banjo track.  Backstage with the Modern Dancers is a melancholy masterpiece that I can’t get out of my head.

Catcher Song is a Byrdsy number, and my favorite song on the record (which is saying something). A 10 on the first listen.   

Changing Colours reminds me of a combination between Steve Goodman’s Yellow Coat (perhaps the most wistful song I’ve ever heard) and America (the band) at its most melancholy.  It’s hard to find anything not to like on this record.

The middle of the order is There is a Light, Put There by the Land and I Am Part of a Large Family (Mp3 clip).  The first two are fine songs, damned perhaps a little being on the same record as several 10s, including the latter.

Where in the World Are You is beautiful with great strings.  Passenger Song is another well written mellow number.

The last song the record, I Became Awake, is a pedal steel driven number that made me wish the other songs had more steel.  It’s my second favorite song on the record.

This is an excellent record, highly recommended for those who like mellow, reflective, well written music.  It’s not a record that will have you tapping your foot or dancing, but it will have you thinking…and smiling.

Rating (5 point scale): 4