The ninth studio album from Canadian folk-roots rockers Skydiggers is simultaneously urgent and laid-back, angry and understanding, intimate and abstract, raw and honed. It's beautiful, complex, timeless stuff — and unmistakably Skydiggers.
Warmth of the Sun is rich with allusions to today's chaotic, divisive and dishonest political climate. Singer Andy Maize implores us to work to make things right; he gets personal when he feels the need, and apologetic when he doesn't have the answers or runs out of time to explain. There's kindness and healing here, too, couched in acceptance of change, new beginnings, and what wasn't meant to be.
The music is more upbeat than the mood, and the band sound better than ever. The recording includes live-off-the-floor versions — which are so good you probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't just pointed it out — and the results of alt-country-inspired songwriting collaborations, new and old. Jessy Bell Smith's vocals on "Show Me the Night" are a lovely addition.
But of course it's Maize's voice and imprint, along with long-time collaborator and lead guitarist Josh Finlayson, that make Skydiggers albums what they are. The anthemic "Needle and Thread" ties the 12 tracks together, while poignant covers of the Tragically Hip's "The Rock" from Depression Suite and the Hollies' version of "The Air That I Breathe" are instant classics.
"I will watch out for you / I'll be waiting," sings Maize, ready for whatever comes next. Warmth of the Sun is music as quiet activism, consolation and hope — the very best kind. (Latent)