Jay Clark & The Jones Grenville County Blues

On first listen, this Toronto quintet's debut sounds like a time capsule from the mythical late '80s Queen Street roots rock scene. Everything about the album carries the straight-up, wide-eyed energy of a rock band discovering the simple pleasures of playing country, the kind of energy that never really goes out of style, especially in Canada. Anyone already familiar with the Queen Street posse will recognise that front-man Jay Clark Reid's vocals aren't that far removed from Andrew Cash's, and echoes of everyone from the Grievous Angels to Outskirts-era Blue Rodeo are readily apparent. That's not to say Grenville County Blues can't stand on its own simple and uncluttered merits. Reid has obviously absorbed plenty of heartland sensibilities into his songs and his lyrics are the album's biggest strength. "Black River" and "Ironwood" especially paint compelling pictures of the continents rugged terrain and the effect on people who experience it. All in all, Grenville County Blues is a worthy addition to Toronto's roots canon, if about ten years too late. (Independent)