Kingston Fog You'll Never Win, Love Always, God

While many folk acts lately have gotten a lot of critical kudos by mining the gothic sounds of the American South (Iron and Wine, Jolie Holland), Ottawa-based Kingston Fog have shucked convention and put out You’ll Never Win, Love Always, God — a record that may owe a debt to the past but, rather than working it off, has repaid it by building on the existing framework. The difference between Kingston Fog and most of the current folk artists traipsing around the musical landscape rests in the fact that they don’t know how to be anything but themselves. On You’ll Never Win singer Rick Devereux croons a dozen ballads about love, loss and late nights that favour emotion over image (references to CDs, Taco Bell and Jeff Buckley lace a few songs) and produce some of the most gut-wrenching moments since Richard Thompson shot out the lights two decades ago. In emphasising emotion over form, not every note is perfect (Devereux’s voice can get pretty pitch-y), but just when Devereux’s voice sounds as if it could be overcome (as on "Oh Feel Ya Hamlet,” "Paper Bridge” and "Hold Me Up To The Flame”), in swoops Renee Leduc’s violin to offer moral support and prop him up. (Independent)