Skydiggers: Northern Shores
On which these pillars of the Canuck alt-rock/roots community drop their eighth album to renewed interest. This 15-song collection stands as the most adventurous and varied of the group’s 20-year plus career, capturing the essence of their sound. Northern Shore sees the group mapping new musical territory, but it feels like home.
The album’s split between revisited older material that had been recorded but never released, renewed versions of older material and a batch of new tunes. Likewise, the recording process took place in Josh Finlayson’s home studio, Blue Rodeo’s studio The Woodshed in Toronto and Kingston, Ontario at The Tragically Hip’s The Bathouse Studio.
As the first new music since the 2009 release of their career retrospective, The Truth About Us, this one gave core members Ron Macey (bass), Josh Finlayson (guitar/vocals) and Andy Maize (vocals) a chance to dust off some back pages and reboot for the future.
Coloration comes via splashes of accordion and guitar effects that are to be expected plus moderne touches through the use of samples and beats. The material on Northern Shore includes two songs written by folkrocker-turned-politico Andrew Cash. Another flashback comes from brother Peter Cash, a founding member of Skydiggers, with an excellent guest turn on "Barely Made It Through."
Since nobody does Canadian alt-folk like the Skydiggers, there are loads of high points, including “Waves”, ”Fire Engine” and a ripping cover of Mickey Newbury’s “Why You Been Gone So Long”. There’s also an overall sense of getting that updating of the sound thing right without much of a compromise.
Skydiggers play a two-night stand June 8/9 at Hugh’s Room in Toronto, closing out the support tour June 29/30 at The Black Sheep Inn, Wakefield, QC.