Published Feb 20, 2020Toronto-based neo-agrarians the Aerialists continue to buck tradition on the followup to their 2017 Juno- and Canadian Folk Music Award-nominated record, Group Manoeuvre. Dear Sienna reinvents the traditional folk wheel with a tasty offering of 11 polyrhythmic, jazzy, atmospheric and progressive tracks.
Helmed by core members Adam Iredale-Gray with his exploratory guitarwork, Elise Boeur with her delicate and MacMaster-esque fiddling and the ethereal, stringed harp musings of Màiri Chaimbeul, on Dear Sienna the group are additionally supported by a handful of hired guns on drums and bass.
However, despite receiving critical acclaim for their instrumental prowess in Group Manoeuvre, Dear Sienna's soothing blend of vibey, experimental compositions specifically excel when tempered by the addition of vocals by Chainbeul ("An Gille Dubh Ciar Dubh" and "Orchard"), Swedish songstress Isa Holmgren ("Jag Vill"), and Iredale-Gray's former Fish & Bird bandmate Taylor Ashton ("Lesson in the Losing").
Overall, Dear Sienna is a deep listening and thought-provoking journey, chockfull of high-end musicianship from a band that haven't quite discovered the ideal formula for the mad science they are dabbling with, but given time and a few more records under their belts, most certainly will. In the meantime, Aerialists continue to be an acquired taste, but that is part of their endearing charm. (Independent)