Published Oct 28, 2016Guelph, ON's Lowlands sound like they could be from the American deep South rather than the Southwestern Ontario university town they call home. This is owing to the high-register, distinctively sublime drawl of Gordon Auld's vocals. Their latest record, Erie, produced by Gavin Gardiner of the Wooden Sky, is the dark Americana/roots quintet's second in a series of five albums named after Great Lakes, the first of which was Huron.
Auld shares the songwriting responsibilities on Erie with Abe Del Bel Belluz, and they combine with the other members to create a swampy, minor chord-laden sound rich with guitar, pedal steel, banjo and some expertly placed harmonies.
The album starts strongly with standout track "Wind Blows Back," which begins with a lonely banjo before the drums kick in and get the album humming. "Run" follows with one of the catchiest choruses I've heard in a long time, guaranteed to keep you singing long after the track finishes. "Waiting All Night" is the most melodically pleasing on the album, while "High Mountain" strays into bluegrass territory with some elevated harmonies. The album sags slightly in the middle section before picking up steam with the stormy, unsettled "Honest Mistake" and carrying through to last track "Fun Blood."
Lyrical themes on the album are of a reflective nature, dealing with indecision, uncertainty and anxiety, albeit with a clear and unabashed honesty.
Erie might not quite be chock full of greatness, but there are some strong indicators that this will be a band to be reckoned with in the near future. Lowlands are a skilled group of musicians poised to garner a lot more attention then they've managed thus far. (Chelsea)