Music Review: Dana Beeler - The Long Goodbye

A striking debut from this Halifax country-ish singer-songwriter. I say country-ish, because one person's definition of country these days is strikingly different from anothers, but let me try to narrow it down. Or, rather, broaden it. I think Beeler would appeal to almost any country fan, whether it's the mainstream type, or the alt-country one, or even those with little interest in the form but like singer-songwriters. It's a fine collection of eight cuts, a half-hour long, each one with strengths.

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Beeler actually comes from a bluegrass background, which explains all the fine playing on the disc, featuring her family. All the great touches are here, from banjo to mandolin to pedal steel to excellent harmonies. Beeler herself is has an excellent, smokey voice, and when she gets a bit blue, reminds me of Shelby Lynne. She's also obviously a strong writer already, penning all the songs here, only one a co-write. Little Heart, a duet with Ryan Cook, is a compact, boy-girl battle, a fun back-and-forth where they both trade barbs about the other being the one with the "lyin', cheatin', hatin' little heart". It's the most obvious bluegrass number, with banjo all through.

Beeler's not content to stay in the same groove here. Sailor Song is a classic Maritime-themed number, this one calling out someone entranced by the idea of going to sea: "I've known boys and fools alike/Sailor you're not one of a kind." The Woodsman's Son gets louder drums and slide guitar licks, plus Beeler's bluesy (or should that be bluegrassy?) strut. Hmm. I'm thinking Bluegrass Bonnie Rait on this one. Anyway, I'm finding lots to love about every cut here, and I'm hoping she picks up a lot of notice for this. It just goes to show what a great breeding ground for talent the bluegrass scene in the Maritimes is.

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About Bob Mersereau

Rockin' BobBob Mersereau has been covering music, and the East Coast Music Scene since 1985 for CBC. He's a veteran scene-maker at the ECMA's, knows where the best shows and right parties are happening, and more importantly, has survived to tell the tales. His weekly East Coast music column is heard on Shift on Radio 1 in New Brunswick each Wednesday at 4'45. He's also the author of two national best-selling books, The Top 100 Canadian Albums (2007) and The Top 100 Canadian Singles (2010).

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