Old Reliable The Gradual Moment

Most people who fall in love with musicians would be flattered if an album was dedicated to them. Sadly, the girlfriend of Old Reliable's Mark Davis isn't able to hear this album's worth of songs written about their relationship and her death from breast cancer two years ago. Davis's gesture and commitment are admirable enough, but The Gradual Moment is much more than a morbid personal memento. The second album by this Edmonton quartet is a glorious life-affirming musical and lyrical statement, perfectly captured by engineer Scott Franchuk. They get some help from all of Giant Sand on one of the strongest tracks, "Heaven's Train," while plenty of fellow Edmontonians pitch in for the cause. Co-front-man Shuyler Jansen graciously takes a back seat, leaving Davis to ably steer the ship by himself. One of Canada's brightest alt-country bands offers proof that the deeply personal can be magically universal. (Independent)