Published Mar 22, 2013With four-piece harmonies and an occasional banjo, Calgary quartet Reuben and the Dark will inevitably garner Mumford & Sons comparisons — admittedly, singer Reuben Bullock has a vaguely Marcus Mumford-ian lilt. Still, the group owe as much, if not more, to the North American folk revival (see, in particular, Fleet Foxes). Sure, the setup is far from earth shattering, but the deft yet passionate execution and the players' general affability set it apart.
A swoony number, "Bow and Arrow," began with melodrama — blame the mallets — fittingly building as it went "over the mountains." Similarly, "Winter's Widow" was a swirling grower with a judicious dash of keys.
Highlight "Shoulderblade" dialed up the dustbowl vocals before slyly looking toward the future with a subtle, spaced-out coda. That slight derivation was atypical. Bullock's lyrics make more nature allusions than a Woodsworth poem, and the sound often took an appropriately organic approach. Holding back on artifice and ratcheting up the earnestness, it was a highly effective and effecting gig.