Wednesday, November 07, 2007
The Sadies--New Seasons (2007)
Review-by Mark Deming. It's almost disorienting to imagine that a band as good as the Sadies can still find room to improve each time they go into the studio, but Canada's greatest contribution to Americana since Blue Rodeo have been consistently topping themselves with each new album, and their sixth, New Seasons, is another triumph. It should come as no surprise that the Sadies are in superb instrumental form here and demonstrating an effortless mastery of a range of different sounds and styles; "What's Left Behind" is a superb evocation of the late-period Byrds with guitar work that would make Clarence White envious, "The Trial" is a deeply atmospheric Southern gothic tale with just the right degree of ominous atmosphere, "A Simple Aspiration" could pass for a lost Paisley Underground classic with its subtly psychedelic guitar figures, "The Land Between" is simply gorgeous folk-rock, and the opening bluegrass breakdown makes you wish these guys had let listeners hear more than 48 seconds of it. But for a band that used to prefer playing instrumentals over approaching the vocal mike, brothers Dallas Good and Travis Good have learned to sing nearly as well as they play guitar, and their harmonies add another layer of beauty and mystery to their music. The group's songwriting continues to impress, with the heartbroken "Sunset to Dawn" and "The Trial" sounding uncannily like lost country classics and the two-part "The Last Inquisition" showing they know how to write a good scary guitar figure for themselves. While ex-Jayhawk Gary Louris helped produce New Seasons, precious little of his influence is audible here; the Sadies have created a powerful and evocative sound on their previous albums, and with New Seasons they've given that sound its ideal definition.
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