According to the press blurb, a port city is where cultures and histories collide and goods and ideas are imported. Well, this Nova Scotia trio of Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro and Breagh MacKinnon have certainly taken that to heart, their debut, Port Cities, frequently calling to mind other acts or songs. Case in point, the breathily-sung catchy opener, ‘Back To The Bottom’ takes its melody line dancing in the dark while the second, ‘Don’t Say You Don’t Love Me’, is a robust rock number with a driving bass line that evokes thoughts of Simple Minds while, sung by MacKinnon, ‘In The Dark’ channels Fleetwood Mac. For good measure, ‘The Out’ is more solo Stevie Nicks.
Later, Stone on lead vocals, the tumbling ‘Half The Way’ mingles Graceland Paul Simon with Indigo Girls and the funky country groove of ‘On The Nights You Stay Home’ surely has some Eagles feathers or Jackson Browne shades below the surface.
All of this does, of course, make the album sound instantly familiar, undoubtedly one of the reasons why the trio picked up five awards at last year’s Nova Scotia Music Week, best album among them. And, don’t get me wrong, this is a hugely enjoyable album, played with energy and solid musical prowess and it sounds great blasting out of the car stereo. But, listening to the final number, the stripped back Astronaut with its distant reverb guitar and MacKinnon’s world weary vocals about the loss of childhood wonder, dreams and innocence with the advent of complicated adulthood with all its responsibilities, you can clearly hear a band with the ability to craft their own musical identity rather than conjuring associations with others. Hopefully, next time round the import-export ratio will swing more towards the latter.
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Artists’ website: www.portcities.ca
‘Back To The Bottom’: