Updated: May 13
by Scott Roos
Nero's Waltz - The Local Group
Nero's Waltz is an eccentric, out of the box offering from Saskatoon bluegrass afiacionados The Local Group. Whilst they are quite capable of shredding through high tempo, high energy bluegrass standards, with this record they present more medium tempo grooves with elements of folk and jazz that lean in a more progressive direction. Their lyrics, at times, are quirky but relatable. It's a different record that bucks tradition and sometimes isn't even really bluegrass at all. It's less hollerin' and pickin' and more of a vibey think piece altogether. In short, it's right where this group needs to be as they continue to crossover into a more mainstream folk audience in Saskatchewan.
Whiskey Dreams - South West
Prince Albert based singer-songwriter South West aka Stephen Williams, takes a DIY based approach in his sophomore full length entitled Whiskey Dreams. Using only a single microphone to record everything and handing out a limited number of burnt cds gives this album a old school "tape trading" kind of feel. The production is laden with imperfections and the vocals and instruments are raw as raw can be. Genre wise, the music is eclectic with elements of hardcore punk, grunge, and folk rock shining through the eight tracks presented. The subject material is edgy and politically charged. It's a strong statement from an artist that continues to evolve and innovate. This is as honest a record as an artist can get and for that alone it's worthy of recognition even if I was only one of a handful of people that have heard it in its entirety.
Saturn Returns - Dara Schindelka
Folksy, piano playing, songstress Dara Schindelka, with Saturn Returns, weaves together songs that are part sentamental, optimistic, tragic, existential... The album is collectively a cocktail of emotions set with sparse backing instrumentation to weave a very personal tale of Schindelka who was at a major crossroads in here life when she wrote many of these songs. Saturn Returns tips its cap to 90's piano based singer-songwriters like Tori Amos and Sarah McLachlan and also fellow Saskie peer Jeffery Straker with a dash the melodic sensibilities of Joni Mitchell. Saturn Returns is a musical and emotional journey worth taking.