It’s unusual these days to come across an artist that offers something ‘different’. But Canadian singer songwriter Carly Dow’s ‘wind crafted soul-folk’ debut reveals a unique and alluring talent.
Dow’s song writing is steeped in the lakes, rivers, mountains, forests, and prairies of her home state of Manitoba as it stretches from the northern Arctic tundra to the Hudson Bay in the east and farmlands in the south. Its expansive wilderness provides the perfect canvas for her to explore love, loss and sensuality.
And while they might be familiar themes, it’s Dow’s delivery that offers something just a little different – sparse instrumentation, banjo, stomps and claps, ghostly noises and poignant lap steel supplemented by the occasional harmonica, guitar, violin or cello, and evocative vocals.
The album engages from the outset with ‘Olive Branch’ a compelling acappella number performed with stomps and claps. The percussive ‘Soil To Dust’ that immediately follows is a gem, Dow’s scratchy banjo, and a poignant lap steel making it as powerful as any piece of rock you’ll hear this year.
‘Too Much To Go Back’ shows that she is equally at home in the (relative) mainstream, while ‘Not A Songbird’ is another delicate number that captivates and showcases her vocals and unique banjo playing.
Whatever style she deploys, folk, roots or blues, it’s the space around the words and music that add so much to this album. And while it may be criminally short at only 34 minutes, it’s exquisitely executed and a very fine debut indeed. ****
Review by Pete Whalley
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