The Highest Order If It's Real

The Highest Order If It's Real
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When One Hundred Dollars, one of Canada's most promising country acts, split in 2012, fans wondered what would become of Simone Schmidt. Great strides were made from 2008's haunting Forest of Tears to the expansive, Polaris Music Prize long-listed follow up, Songs of Man. With the Highest Order, Schmidt's newest project, fans can breathe easy. Schmidt hasn't lost her deft, insightful and painfully honest touch. In fact, she's done one better; she's crafted a collection of songs that pay homage to the dimly-lit barroom ballads that One Hundred Dollars made their name on. But on If It's Real, she's showcased her ability to give depth to her tales of perpetual woe with a psychedelic edge. Marrying acoustic-based country with subtle yet poignant psych-rock, Schmidt and the Highest Order's tales of small town heartache and universal isolation maintain a blue-collar charm. There's sonic depth, too. With this depth comes lyrics that, perhaps for the first time in Schmidt's career, are open to interpretation. Rather than be backed into a corner with songwriting that is somewhat linear, If It's Real sticks like glue, forcing listeners to peel away the many layers of tracks like "Offer Still Stands" and "Chain Mail." Schmidt is now trading in showcasing maturity in her songwriting that simply cannot be faked. (Idée Fixe)