United Steel Workers Of Montreal

Three On The Tree

BY Kerry DoolePublished Mar 24, 2009

Given their proudly populist and working class roots, it makes sense that the United Steel Workers of Montreal have a strong work ethic. Less than two years since their acclaimed sophomore record, Kerosene & Coal, came out, they're back with an equally strong new effort. Their sound remains a high-octane, urban take on bluegrass, folk and hillbilly forms (we'll avoid the ugly "citygrass" term). There are a few personnel changes in the line-up but the core of Gern f, Felicity Hamer, Shawn "Gus" Beauchamp and Matt Watson remains. The three males all contribute to the songwriting, while the sweeter voice of Hamer on "Little Girl" and "The Ballad Of Mary Gallagher" makes for a nice contrast to the gritty and gruff Gern and Gus. Further variety comes from musical touches like the Mexican-flavoured horns on "Glenn Jones," sounding like something the Pogues might have done. Lyrically, there are the anticipated pro-worker/anti-cop and call-to-arms songs like "Rise Up" and "What A Riot " ( "So when I see the boys in blue It reminds me of the screws that they use to keep us bolted to the ground"), but there are also flashes of humour, as on "Making Babies" ("Well, I'm 30 drinking a 40 of 50 And I'll be happy to make it to 60"). In these recessionary days, some good old-fashioned rabble-rousing is welcome, and USWM provide the ideal soundtrack.

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