Published Nov 04, 2016Golden Favourites, the first studio album by Peterborough, ON's the Silver Hearts in over a decade, serves as an excellent reintroduction to the band. The multi-member, eclectic "beer hall orchestra" (as they style themselves) have recorded an album of songs that have been hallmarks of their live act since the beginning. Originals like "Letter to the Editor" and Deaf Charlie" that appeared on earlier live albums here get the full studio treatment.
The Silver Hearts have always been able to take much-covered standards and make them uniquely their own. On Golden Favourites, the classic Leadbelly song "In the Pines," with Cathy Petch's musical saw, and a whispery chorus of harmonies, becomes a rural legend, a terrifying ghost story. Blind Lemon Jefferson's "One Kind Favour" is turned into a roundel dirge. And their howling take on the centuries-old "St. James Infirmary Blues" makes its well-known story and list of funeral requirements into a hectic mourning rite. Truly, listeners will shiver.
The best and worst thing about Golden Favourites is how tantalizingly it whets the appetite. It isn't quite the same as getting an album of new material, nor does it try to capture the group's live dynamic. But after ten years, it's good to finally have. (Mudtown)