Ben Kunder's Golden is one of those records that sounds like a culmination rather than a debut, which is what it is. The Toronto alt-folk musician spent nearly a decade crafting this collection of tender-hearted acoustic songs, while traipsing from one end of this country to the other.
The sense of wanderlust that pervades many of the tracks here confirms that objects in motion stay in motion, including love songs set to music and musicians in pursuit of their muse. Kunder's extra special voice, along with gorgeous production, lends the record an almost velvety quality.
Co-produced by John Dinsmore (NQ Arbuckle), the record also features Brian Murphy (Alvvays) on guitar, piano and Wurlitzer, Rich Knox (Dustin Bentall, Danko Jones) on drums and vocals, Anna Ruddick (Ladies of the Canyon) on bass and vocals and Aaron Goldstein (Cowboy Junkies) on pedal steel. Listen closely and you'll hear backing vocals by John Connolly, Kirty and fellow Ladies of the Canyon Maia Davies and Jasmine Bleile.
Kunder's richly textured melodies and sound palette incorporate everything from classic rock to folk, '80s pop through to alt-country. "When you are golden you can do no wrong," sings Kunder, summing things up quite nicely. (Independent)