Nine Mile Close To Touch

For a band named after Bob Marley’s birthplace, one might expect nothing but heartland reggae from this Toronto outfit. While there is a solid foundation of laid-back island grooves, this second effort once again shows a remarkable range of influences. Main man Dari has obviously been learning from the recent successes of Jack Johnson and Ben Harper with his singing and songwriting, but it’s unfair to say he’s merely following their in footsteps on the beach. Most of Close To Touch is engaging folk rock, with all 11 tracks eventually blending into a slow-burning, mellow trip. It’s all brought together by subtle touches from drummer Dave Tolley and revolving cast of supporting players, and an overall warm and intimate sound by Ottawa production guru Dave Draves. On the surface, all of these elements should naturally catch the ears of post-modern hippies everywhere, but by all rights Nine Mile’s appeal should go beyond Dave Matthews followers to anyone seeking the perfect music for a smoke-filled Saturday afternoon. Close To Touch is an impressive outing for a band with a fresh voice, within Canada at least. (Dreadrock)