CD Cover The Circus in Flames

Review by Gary 'pigboy' Swartz

45-second excerpt from "Good Night, Good Night (A Drunken Lullaby)" (various formats)

I can't remember the last time I listened to music that felt so quintessentially Canadian. There's something happening here. Something interesting. Something worth listening to. What and why, I'm not sure.

Maybe it's having the imagination to take classical bluegrass instrumentation -- upright bass, guitar, mandolin, banjo -- add drums and accordion, and then give the lyrics and arrangements a rock 'n roll attitude. Maybe it's getting past the mythical folkie sensibility -- plaguing too many of our homegrown songwriters -- to describe the Fraser as "a river of kerosene." Maybe it's dancing the bureaucratic shuffle long enough to obtain a FACTOR grant.

What it is, for sure, is the certainty that this group of musicians have the chops and the desire to make their iconoclastic musical vision work. The solo work is shared. No one is riding anyone's coattails. Songwriter/vocalist Doug Andrew knows his limits and works within them to advantage.

Perhaps the best example of it all coming together is "Good Night, Good Night (A Drunken Lullaby)": the accompaniment weaves smoothly from instrument to instrument, and at the end of six and a half minutes, the song hasn't seemed nearly that long.

Sometimes serious, sometimes wry, sometimes paying homage (they cover Jimmy Rogers' "Waiting for a Train"), this band is a bright beacon in a sea of mediocrity.

Artist Contact Info: P.O. Box 74532, 2803 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver, B.C., Canada, V6K 4P4

First published in Drop-D Magazine on October 24, 1997

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