Published Aug 01, 2014Shanghai is the first full-length offering by the All Day Breakfast Stringband, an Appalachian-style old-time band from Montreal whose members are no strangers to the eastern Canadian stringband community. Their debut album is a fine collection of great tunes and songs, played and sung well. Dara Weiss' voice is straight-ahead with not a shred of vibrato, perfect for this kind of music, and she sings the heck out of "Love's Worse Than Sickness." Max Evans sings his share of the songs, too, and shows off his fiddle chops unaccompanied on "The Old Drake." He also betrays a sly sense of humour on "Sugar Hill," which ends on a delightfully precarious fiddle note.
For the uninitiated, one of the great things about old-time music is how, with the right musicians, a tune can be played over and over without sounding repetitive. "Half Irish" is a great example of how the interplay of melody and chords becomes almost trance-like after the first few times through. The tunes here range from the traditional "Fire On The Mountain" to an Evans original, "Rosie In The Leaves," and for those looking to play along, they've helpfully included the fiddle and banjo tunings for each track. Highlights of the album are "Troubles" and "Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong," both upbeat songs featuring Evans and Weiss together on tight harmony vocals. With so many bands out there trying to expand the old-time genre in different directions, it's nice to hear a group take us back to basics. This is great old-time music, exactly as advertised. (Independent)