Canadian Indie-Folk Artists Extraordinaire to Play at the Taft Theater
CINCINNATI – If you’ve heard their 2003 self-titled debut, or Bodies and Minds (2005), you know. Great Lake Swimmers are masters of crafted, folk lullaby. Known as much for their music as for their idiosyncratic choices of remote recording locations — abandoned grain silos, empty churches and island castles — on their previous records, their latest album, New Wild Everywhere (now out on Nettwerk) represents a milestone change — they recorded it (gasp!) in a traditional sound studio.
“We had a really great run with the last record,” said Tony Dekker, GLS’ cornerstone and primary songwriter, referring to 2009′s Lost Channels. “I think we were all suffering after the tour. We took some time to do a little bit of a healthy break.”
In the meantime, the Swimmers kept busy. Dekker worked on a project with Canada’s National Parks, and the now-expanded touring band produced an instrumental soundtrack for One in a Thousand, an eBook about Lake Ontario’s Thousand Islands by photographer Ian Coristine and writer Donna Walsh Inglehart. The
New Wild Everywhere features more layered instrumentation and smooth production — it feels more alt-country and polished than GLS’ earlier releases. Miranda Mulholland’s violin and backing vocals are brought forward and seamlessly interwoven with Dekker’s high, soothing notes; Greg Millson’s percussion work is more evident. Producer Andy Magoffin brings a warmer mix. The songs are generally more uptempo, but there are the expected waltz-time moments inherent to Dekker’s body of work. For those who have never heard the Swimmers before, it is an imminently accessible, well-crafted indie-folk installment. For the Olde Guarde (like me), a deluxe edition featuring stripped-down demo versions of most of the new songs satisfies better than Snickers on a Sunday. Overall, it seems more collaborative, like more fingers are in the compositional pie.
“I still bring finished songs to the band. I write all my songs for acoustic guitar and vocals. And then, it sort of undergoes these really wide-ranging transformations when I get them involved with it. As far as the layering, they do – they have added a lot more,” Dekker explained. “We were all present the whole time in the studio. It wasn’t like the bass player [Bret Higgins] comes in and plays his tunes and that’s it. Everyone was there for the whole process. So it did feel like there was a more collaborative spirit, at least in the arrangement.”
Hearing Great Lake Swimmers live is an arresting experience — they exhibit a concentrated musicianship uncommon to twentysomething neo-folk bands. They live in their songs; Dekker seems to be able to go to a place while singing that is mysterious and emotionally excrutiating, and to readily channel that depth of feeling into his singing. But, as LeVar Burton so aptly pointed out in countless episodes of Reading Rainbow — you don’t have to take my word for it. They’ll be here. This Saturday.
“It’s been a while since we played in Ohio and in particular the Cincinnati area,” said Dekker. “We’re really looking forward to it.”
Saturday, 06/23/12, 8 pm door / 9 pm show
Taft Theatre, Cincinnati, Ohio
$10 advance / $13 door
Great Lake Swimmers are:
Tony Dekker — Guitar, Lead Vocals
Erik Arensen –Banjo, Guitar
Miranda Mulholland — Backing Vocal, Violin
Bret Higgins — Upright Bass
Greg Millson –Percussion