Published Mar 20, 2015The debut album from Winnipeg's Black River Drifters, Hearts Gone Cold, perfectly captures the plight of the modern (alt) country band. Do you stick with the more artistically respectable "Americana" sound that critics and obsessive fans dig or do you reach for the shinier, more commercially viable radio-friendly side of country music?
Black River Drifters straddle both lines of this plight so hard that it's kind of difficult to get a feel for who they really are. They hit some wonderful strides on the more traditional cuts like "Bushwacker" and "Mad Butcher of Kingbury Run," both back-road ramblers that deliver a good swift punch to the ears. Unfortunately, the group has a tendency to double back to that "city country" sound. Songs like "Ride On" and "Red Eye" tend to lilt along without the sense of fun or tradition that runs through the better cuts on the album. The bright spots outshine the dull ones here, though, and Hearts Gone Cold has enough honesty and solid playing to carry you through a lazy Sunday afternoon. (Independent)