THE ONCE – Row Upon Row Of The People They Know (Borealis Records BCD212)

Not many Internationally established Canadian folk artists immediately spring to mind with the possible exceptions of Gordon Lightfoot, Leonard Cohen, Loreena McKennitt and Stan Rogers so to see a new ensemble from the land that brought us Cirque Du Soliel being heralded as ‘the next big thing’ was bound to draw my attention to the package that arrived on my doorstep recently.

This highly personable trio’s skills as musicians are well represented by Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale whose nifty licks on mandolin, guitar, bouzouki and fiddle buoy the crowning glory of Geraldine Hollett’s vocals.

Utilising tight harmonies as a main feature The Once open with a sonorous self-penned “Cradle Hill” before moving onto the traditional tale of “Jack The Sailor” but most surprisingly it’s the underplayed rendition of John Deacon’s (Queen’s bass player) “You’re My Best Friend” that will undoubtedly bring a wry grin to anyone with a sense of fun. For those that like a bit more meat there’s a nicely re-worked version of “My Husband’s Got No Courage” where Hollet’s double-tracked raunchy singing takes centre stage as if she was auditioning for a place on the X-Factor. Now (and I hate to nit-pick), the only problem with CD digi packs is that you can’t get enough information on them…unless you add a book and the only reason I mention this is that The Once are clearly a band where words play an important part in their presentation and, personally speaking, as a reviewer I like to read the lyrics as I listen to them being sung. Perhaps next time they could put them on their website? With that minor quibble out of the way this is an album well worth adding to your collection.


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