Whilst, according to their own chosen generic label, they make European Country music, this sophomore album proves that Alasca can’t be defined quite that easily. Whilst the classic Americana hallmarks, infectious banjo, honky-tonk piano and wonderful country guitar licks lay an obvious and solid foundation to the album, songs such as Sweet Surrender run in a more acid-folk direction, like a long lost Joni Mitchell song getting a make over through a warm cannabis smoke haze. Comparisons to Crosby, Stills & Nash have already been aptly pointed out elsewhere so I won’t dwell on that.
But even within this late 60’s tinged underground melting pot of lush west coast country rock and poignant Newport folk festival vibes, other musical flavours keep you guessing, the mariachi trumpets of In Media Res that kick the album off, seedy and archaic, bar-room piano, the anthemic spaghetti western twang that is The Prophet, bluesy introspection and lyrics that could go toe to toe with Cohen or Waits in their subject matters and messages, name-checking Rimbauld and Shakespeare along the way. It’s grounded in a defined, past sound but then explodes that model wonderfully as it strides forward towards new horizons. It’s clever without being knowingly so, it’s effortlessly creative and crashes boundaries without acknowledging that the boundaries were even there in the first place. It’s like the summer of 1969 all over again. I would imagine.