Hot Toddy The Salty Sessions Vol.1

Hot Toddy are the quintessential herring chokers. New Brunswick doesn't often register as a hot bed of musical talent but this acoustic trio may help to change that. Their fourth album is chalk full of East Coast charm from the fact that it was recorded live off the floor at a St. Andrews Inn to the thematic threads running through many of the trio's original songs. Despite Joel LeBlanc's stately uptown electric jazz guitar leanings, The Salty Sessions embodies an essential ruralness that is the heartbeat of roots music. Even with the addition of drums and piano on many of the tracks, the roots vibe thankfully remains. The humorous "Black Fly," the practical "Woodpile," the instrumental dobro on "Hubbard's Blues," the back woodsy "The Cabin" and the Sunday morning rural gospel of "Old Dirt Road" — the themes and motifs are almost a cultural map of New Brunswick. (Ok, there are no fishing songs, but there is a picture of the sea in the insert.) It's good to see artists in the blues and roots camp adding new music to the canon, writing more stories for the book and throwing home-sawn cord wood on the fire. Oh yeah, and the one cover on the album — "Creole Belle," brings Creole back home to the Maritimes where it started. (Independent)