Mended With Gold – The Rural Alberta Advantage (Paper Bag Records) reviewed by Dave Franklin

1979551_10152155936771646_9113900419522543624_nIt famously worked for Bon Iver, Mike Oldfield and probably hundreds of others so why not give it a go. Rent a cottage in the middle of the wilderness (or in Oldfield’s case a holiday home on the Welsh borders) freeze half to death and live constantly in the fear of being attacked by local wildlife then use the experience to inspire new musical ideas. Singer-songwriter Nils Edenloff did just that and the result is the fragile “To Be Scared” which acts as a wonderful centrepiece to this album.

 

After two critically acclaimed releases, 2008’s Hometowns and 2011’s Departing, a string of award nominations and a reputation as one of the most impressive live bands treading the boards today, Mended with Gold continues to convey their love letter to their Alberta homeland, its landscape and seasons, its people and places. Elements of folk, indie and rock are shackled together at act as a musical vehicle; wonderful dynamics of light and shade, soaring anthems, acoustic balladering, wistful reflection and dark thoughts tumble cheek by jowl, often in the same song.

 

For me this is the Wilco phenomenon all over again. RAA could be just another indie band embracing the sounds of folk music but instead they take those two core elements and really play around with the possibilities, forcing them together in less obvious ways, ignoring the commerciality and upholding the integrity and producing if not a concept album, then at least an album of related concepts along the way.

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