Published Jun 15, 2018Toronto's Slocan Ramblers have done it again, with another album of excellent bluegrass from start to finish. Queen City Jubilee is everything a bluegrass album should be: a combination of originals and old chestnuts, a blend of great vocals with instrumental virtuosity, and polished delivery that captures the intensity of live performance.
The album features each of the band members — and their songs — in turn. "Shut the Door" and "Just to Know" are testaments to Frank Evans' songwriting prowess; the first, a high-energy instrumental with his great banjo playing front and centre, and the second, a well-crafted song that sounds like it could be a old classic.
"First Train In the Morning" and "Makin' Home" showcase bass player Alastair Whitehead's soft, sincere singing. Darryl Poulsen's guitar work on "Down In the Sugar Bush," and throughout the album, combines serious drive with the precision to make each note ring. Finally, Adrian Gross is featured on "New Morning," an instrumental that demonstrates his knack for writing exploratory melodies that break new ground while remaining true to the traditions of the genre. Gross's mandolin really stands out on this record; he's always been an inspired musician, but there seems to be an extra bit of intention to his playing here.
Produced by Chris Coole and engineered by Andrew Collins, two accomplished musicians who really get the band's vision, this album is a bluegrass gem. The Slocans are really at the top of their game. (Independent)