Wednesday, August 7, 2013

CD Review: New Country Rehab - Ghost of Your Charms

Everyday this week, I've had Ghost of Your Charms, the latest from New Country Rehab, on a continuous loop - just can't get enough of this CD.  It starts with the first track, Empty Room Blues, some rockn' music, and continues all the way through Too Many Parties And Too Many Pals. Rollin' is a classic - this is country music and The Bank And The Army is classic rock. How did this band not pass through my radar before. Thanks Hearth Music.

You might not expect the Canadian city of Toronto to produce a hard-driving alt-country sound, but that’s exactly what you’ll find in New Country Rehab’s new album, Ghost of Your Charms. New Country Rehab’s dynamic sound and powerful songs throw light on the grittier side of Toronto, from the city’s working class history as Hogtown, an early 20th century center of meatpacking and industry. And just as Southern American folk traditions needed the urban landscapes of Chicago to become electric blues and R&B, Toronto turns simple country songs into the driving, electrifying Americana of New Country Rehab.

New Country Rehab’s lead singer John Showman is a frontman on fire, singing and fiddling with the swagger and verve of a guitar god. With his fiddle jammed on his shoulder or slung low at his side, Showman swings from a croon to a growl, throwing a powerful punch of energy and virtuosity into the band’s sound. Drummer Roman Tome rocks a hybrid kit including a saw-blade cymbal and goat hooves for shakers, among other surprises. Freewheeling bassist Ben Whiteley holds it all together with his acoustic bass grooves, energizing the band and audiences alike with joyful abandon. The band teams up on this album with producer Chris Stringer (Timber Timbre, Ohbijou) and the results are both polished and powerful.

The song’s lyrics treat classic country themes with a modern take on mortality, love, and the open road. The album’s single, “Home to You,” follows the narrator on a wandering journey that circles back again and again to the devoted optimism of the chorus – “it brings me home to you.” “Rollin’,” a Morricone-inspired western soundscape, follows the lonely ramblings of a mysterious highwayman. “Lizzy Dying of a Broken Heart” is about a Vietnam vet and career mercenary slowly losing his mind in post-war retirement, and “The Bank and the Army” puts a spin on the murder ballad genre, with a fictionalized story set against an imagined, but frighteningly plausible, backdrop of political conspiracy.

New Country Rehab fuses the sounds of country roots traditions to the urban grit of contemporary Toronto. Ghost of Your Charms is the sound of a band with feet firmly rooted in the city they call home, and their eyes on the road ahead.

NEW COUNTRY REHAB - Home to You (official video) from kelprecords on Vimeo.

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