‘Ontario’ from Express and Company - precise blend, chock-full of earthy richness(May 22, 2013)
Recently, we’ve received an increasing number of albums from Canada, and the latest offering, the album ‘Ontario’ from Express and Company is right up there with the best. To call it Americana is perhaps defining a step too far. Suffice to say the mix includes elements of folk, roots, country and rock - for me it’s a pure and precise blend, chock-full of earthy richness. For those desperate to stick lables on bottles, call it vibrant ‘Canadana’ and leave it at that.
The songs cut across a range of ‘life-experiences’ and present images that touch an immediate nerve. With a fearless, present-day interpretation of tradition and roots, these songs drive home their hook-rich messages of encounters, involvement, understanding and observation. If this is your introduction to Express and Company, they are singer-songwriter Danny Ireland (guitars, vocals) Melissa Payne (fiddle, vocals) Benj Rowland (banjo) Liam Wilson (bass) and Joe Hay (drums).
Ride with them through their creative journey. Ireland’s vocal presence shapes desperate longing around deeply-felt, soundly-delivered lyrics, while the rock steady foundation laid by Wilson and Hay is a perfect platform for Rowland and Payne to deliver added edge and energy. From the opener ‘Carry Me Along’ with its gutsy beat and impressive fiddle cuts, through the unassuming but intensely powerful affection of ‘The List’ and the soulful resignation of ‘Ontario’ to a melodic banjo and fiddle encounter with ‘Gold in Your Pockets’ this is a rendezvous to savour. Explore their world further with the sombre ‘Tall, Tall Pines’ and the simple yet moving truth of ‘Out by the Trees’ and you will want more.
You'll find ‘Ontario’ on Seventh Fire Records. And perhaps one day Express and Company will leave their native shores and venture to this little island to play some gigs, I do hope so because I will be there.
Reviewer: Tom Franks