Old Reliable Pulse of Light Dark Landscape

This album is a year old in their native Alberta, but Old Reliable’s records are perpetually underrated, never dated. Their 2001 album The Gradual Moment was a study in personal grief for Mark Davis, where his co-bandleader Shuyler Jansen relinquished songwriting duties to allow Davis to work through the death of his spouse. Now, it’s Jansen stepping to the forefront, and he peers into just as many creepy crevices. The music isn’t all minor keys, but that’s when it excels, especially when they slip into waltz time, sing in stately tenor harmony, and invite violinist Shannon Johnson to put a few more tears in your beer. The fuzzed out Crazy Horse guitars come crashing in at all the right moments; these songs should be experienced at volumes too loud for most folk festivals. Jansen sings about yearning to "leave these Alberta blues behind.” For our sake, let’s hope they never do. (Independent)