Northern Redemption by young Kingston, Ontario trio the Abrams Brothers is out tomorrow June 21st! John, James and their cousin Elijah from give their all on a great album bound to be enjoyed by many Canadians across the country in the coming months and raise the Abrams Brothers to new heights of recognition. Here are some thoughts on the listen I had to the excellent album.
The title track, a nod to disappointments and changes in life remarks “in the snow/ emptiness grows” and echoes a singing style reminiscent of a young Gordon Lightfoot.
Track “Window” brings to mind a rather polished, folksy retro bluegrass-tinged ballad. And the more up-tempo “Nothing at All” that treads more mainstream country music territory with its sawing fiddle and earnest vocals. Clever lines like “displaced communications/ kept my head and lost my peace of mind,” show an emerging lyrical maturity on display throughout Northern Redemption. At times the atmosphere is somewhat melancholy as on “Leaving Love Behind,” a pop-music sounding mournful tune remarking on love lost and tying the immolation of the individual under materialistic pursuits with romantic heartbreak: “hiding myself behind/ this shirt and hat and tie/ I hear a voice/ say goodbye.”
The standout track for me was “Where I’m Bound,” a rollicking old-time bluegrass tune full of feel-good banjo picking, fiddle and straightforwardly youthful vocals tinged with the stresses of growing up, a kind of ‘innocence begins to reckon with the pressures and disappointments of adult life’ feel, retaining its free spirit, as it sings about “growing old is the grand price of living/ so I’m told/ and if it’s true/would you mind if I’m going there with you?”
On “While You Sleep,” a great song takes you along for an emotional drive through a relationship and its ups and downs, with a satisfying conclusion. “All our sadness/ In the rearview mirror.” The song’s steel guitar licks and solid fiddle track give it a great country music and roots feel.
The inclusion of an amped-up electric cover of the song “Thirteen” by legendary band and one of my personal top five favorite bands of all-time, Big Star, is absolutely outstanding! The original Big Star (which broke up and since re-formed without Alex) was a power pop group headed by Alex Chilton in Memphis, Tennessee whose influence even today is wide-ranging and significant in many genres of music. The fact that the Abrams Brothers chose to include this song on Northern Redemption says a lot about the variety and depth of their musical leanings, not to mention the incredibly brilliant job they did covering it, with added nostalgic strains of fiddle bringing an extra resonance to the greatness of Big Star’s “Thirteen.” Others more familiar with mainstream contemporary music will also rejoice at inclusion of the Abrams Brothers’ bluegrass version of Coldplay hit “Viva la Vida.”
“Where will you go/ when the joker’s done his part and that’s the show?” ask the Abrams Brothers on Northern Redemption, an album aiming for authenticity and layered with heartbreak and happiness that is a coming-of-age from aworld-class Canadian talent!