You may know Alister Atkin as a maker of fine guitars and you may have heard his debut album, In Time, recorded with Brendan Power and Tim Edey. If not, don’t feel bad. Neither had I until recently and I’m supposed to know about these things.
Alister and his band are based in Canterbury but in his heart he’s Canadian. His wife comes originally from Nova Scotia, a place where the music of the old world meets that of the new and To Evangeline is just that fusion. I love the music of The Band and, clearly, so does Alister. In fact there are one or two borrowings from Robbie Robertson and the removal of one such would improve ‘Shipping News’ immensely. Sorry to be harsh, Alister, but it has to be said. Once over that, this is an extremely good album – witty, literate songs matched with good tunes and a band which includes Geoffrey Richardson and Annie Whitehead, two former members of The Penguin Café Orchestra – this is close to nirvana: The Band and PCO.
The song that should/might be a single is ‘San Diego’, the story of a musician who is offered the big time and turns his back on it – the line about driving over his guitar makes me wince, though. There are two different cuts of the song on the album – a blatant clue. In the meantime the opener, ‘Jess’s Song’, is available as a single. It’s a song redolent of the fog of the Bay Of Fundy and will enhance your iPod even if you don’t buy the whole album – but that would be a mistake.