The Once Row Upon Row of the People They Know

The press release for Newfoundland folksters the Once claims that the group's sophomore effort, Row upon Row of the People They Know," sounds like nothing that has ever come from Newfoundland." And it's on this point that I would like to ask: what were the writers smoking? Contrary to what the Once's publicists state, this album sounds exactly like everything that's ever come from Newfoundland: there are three songs about sailors ("Jack the Sailor," "My Husband's Got No Courage" and "Charlie's"), a track ("Ode to a Broken Heart") that utilizes a waltz theme written by Emile Benoit, one of Newfoundland's best known fiddlers, and a number that was written about the courage of living in Newfoundland prior to electricity and indoor plumbing ("By the Glow of the Kerosene Light"). The Once have written a beautiful album, but don't be fooled: it has Newfoundland blood flowing through its veins. Highlights on Row upon Row of the People They Know include a beautiful, pared down banjo cover of Queen's "You're My Best Friend," the incessant, driving "My Husband's Got No Courage" and the especially pretty "Valley of Kilbride." (Borealis)