Up the Hill and Through the Fog

It’s no surprise that this youthful, effervescent Toronto-based trio (joined on this outing by bass player and vocalist Charles James) won IBMA’s 2020 “Momentum Band of the Year” trophy. These twelve original songs bristle with intelligence, immediacy and innovation in the form of captivating lyrics, compelling melodies and nonpareil vocal and instrumental arrangements that feature some delightful and surprising twists and turns.

While some of these tracks, such as “Bury My Troubles” and the evocative instrumental “Snow Owl,” are rooted sure-footedly in this Juno Award-winning band’s mainstream bluegrass influences, these guys take flight on jazzy interludes and excursions on other selections, including the fiery instrumental, “Platform Four,” the yearning “I Don’t Know” and a lilting love ballad called “Streetcar Lullaby.” They even serve up a bravado reprise of Tom Petty’s “A Mind With A Heart Of Its Own.”

As the liner notes explain, COVID hit home hard with the band. Adrian Gross (mandolin, mandola and vocals) lost his father Laury and Darryl Poulsen (guitar and vocals) lost his brother Glen. The album is dedicated to Laury Gross and Glen Poulsen.

In introspective, yet uplifting compositions like “You Said Goodbye” and “The River Roaming Song” they contemplate and, at least somewhat, come to terms with their losses.  Yet it’s obvious from the optimism (though sometimes hard-fought) and forward-driving energy of these tracks that Gross, Poulson and Frank Evans (banjo and vocals) are forging upward and onward while carrying the best parts of the past along with them.

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