Key Witness Mercury In Retrograde

A vigorous slab of rockabilly opens this collection of quality roots-based rock from Toronto’s Key Witness. "The Proposition” is as fierce a barnburner as I’ve heard this side of the Sadies. First impressions can be misleading though and this one is, but in the best way possible. Mercury In Retrograde is a deliciously diverse piece of work. "Perchance To Dream” is a beautiful country ballad that precedes album highlight "Desert Novel,” a seven-minute epic that exceeds anything on the Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible in musical scope and lyrical depth. The arrangement has the pulsing beat and soaring strings to alight the spirit but can’t resist exploring territory too frantic and dark for their contemporaries to touch. J.M. McNab’s grittily soulful vocals capably lead the way, a perfect vessel for his subversive twists to lyrical conventions. A potent brew equally as influenced by A Silver Mt. Zion as Johnny Cash and Sonic Youth, Mercury In Retrograde is easily one of the most overlooked albums of 2007. (Independent)