Backstabbers Deep, Dark & Dangerous

Backstabbers Deep, Dark & Dangerous
Last time I checked, Toronto had neither hide nor hair of any sort of mountain but listening to Deep, Dark & Dangerous, I’m convinced Queen Street is made of dirt and pebbles and coal miners are strolling along its spit and tobacco stained plank sidewalks. The Backstabbers, Cabbage Town’s favourite lo-fi old time-y songsters, mine bluegrass and the like for another bulls eye set of hurting and too drunk to care tunes. The band has always been adept at recreating that near lost sound of early-mid 20th Century country string bands, but what has always set them apart, and it is variably apparent here. They don’t just mimic the genre’s heyday by playing a set of covers, and their writing is not only respective of country’s roots (read: hillbilly/waltz/bluegrass/fiddle/mountain et al.), but they also bring a modern topicality to many of their songs. Whereas Let the Sun had stoic lyrics about internet chat rooms, Deep, Dark tackles both the Canadian snowbird phenomenon (Anne Murray has nothing on these gents and lady) and devotes an entire song to the gentrification of Toronto’s hip district in "Queen Street Lost.” By perforating the original material with a few traditional gems ("My Wife Died Saturday Night,” "Wish I Was A Single Girl Again”) the Backstabbers walk a thin edge by keeping a purist sound and feel to the music at the same time as creating fresh and captivating art, which is not an easy feat. (Run Mountain)