Foggy Hometown Boys Northern White Clouds

The recent "controversy” in Exclaim! as to who is or isn’t a true bluegrass band was all a bit silly, but it did reveal that the form arouses strong interest and passion now. That should augur well for this much-anticipated debut disc from one of Toronto’s most popular exponents of the genre. Together for four years, the Foggy Hometown Boys have honed their group sound at a long-running weekly residency at the Dominion Hotel, and the album certainly reflects their empathy as players and singers. Originally intended as an all-Canadian bluegrass album to feature the work of outside writers, it has turned into a primarily original record, one largely composed by guitarist Chris Coole. An appealing version of the Gordon Lightfoot classic "Sundown” is sure to attract attention, and a cover of Mike O’Riley’s "Lily Hoskins” is also featured. Each of the five Boys is a highly skilled instrumentalist (Andrew Collins and John Showman are also in the acclaimed Creaking Tree String Quartette), while the presence of three vocalists (Coole, Collins and John McNaughton) adds variety to their sound. If anyone dares suggest this country can’t produce a bluegrass group as credible as one from south of the border, just play them this disc. (Independent)