The Silver Hearts Our Precious City

The Silver Hearts Our Precious City
With 17 songs, the Silver Hearts’ latest shows a breadth of musical styles and influences, from tin-pan alley jazz to western swing, and from bluegrass to contemporary roots. The ten-piece Peterborough, Ontario collective is built around the multi-instrumental talents of Mike Bégin and Kelly Pineault, whose combined use of such oddities as sousaphone, Theremin, accordion, and bass trombone, along with traditional guitars, evoke the warmth of a midwinter’s sunrise. Our Precious City sounds homey, and this is not surprising since it was recorded at Bob Lanois’ wooded retreat outside Hamilton, Ontario. Overall, the album comes across like Tom Waits sitting in with the Hot Club of Cowtown, with an aura that bridges the musical distance between Berlin and Bristol, Tennessee. Songs are kept short and snappy, with most tunes clocking in at less than three minutes and several instrumentals interspersed throughout. Highlights include an inspired and original reworking of Brecht & Weill’s "O Heavenly Salvation,” the traditional "Sinnerman vs. Satan,” and the closer "In the Hollow of a Tree,” in which the intimacy of the recording sessions is most clearly felt. A fine effort from one of the country’s truly unique outfits.

What feeling do you get when you listen to the album? Bégin: It’s hard to have an outside perspective, but I picture the log cabin in the woods where it was recorded while people are delivering pianos. We used the same soundboard and reel-to-reel machine that Bob’s brother Dan used on U2’s The Joshua Tree. He managed to track down this equipment from him.

Can you describe the atmosphere of the recording sessions? The cabin was darkly lit with candles burning during the recording. I mean it was a fucking cabin in the middle of the woods filled with about a million dollars worth of equipment, and the room in the cabin was no more than 12 feet by 25 feet. The drums didn’t even fit in the room, so they were outside in a tent next door.

What vibe do you want the listener to feel? I’m interested to hear what people think of it. It was truly a beautiful feeling to record the album and I think that runs throughout the record. I hope that the listener gets this vibe. (Independent)