Music Review: Shanklin Road - Shanklin Road

The country trio return with their third disc under this name (not counting the Blacks Mountain work when they were a quartet), and its their most confident one yet. Above all, these are three excellent singers. Dawn Ellis, Lisa Bennett and Joyce Miller sound as good as any harmony group going, with stirring leads and sweet combinations. There's a fun twang that shows their rural, St. Martins roots on the faster, light-hearted tracks, and a warmth on the ballads that lets you know it comes from the heart.

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Next comes the song writing, with sisters Miller and Ellis each writing the bulk of the tracks here, apart from a couple of covers of local artists. Steeped in bluegrass and classic country, several of the songs showcase their fun-filled personalities. As anyone who has ever seen the band knows, these are three crazy women at heart, who love to joke in person and on stage, and such numbers as Country Girl Blues by Miller are meant to give you a laugh. Ellis's Livin Lovin You is an up tempo bluegrass number, without the fiddle or banjo, as their close harmonies cover all the parts needed. But both can bring a tear to your eye, with traditional and folk numbers. The song Atlantic Ocean, by Miller, is a cappella, the trio soaring on this number that asks for comfort from the sea. If you told me it was a hundred years old, I'd believe it, it has all the hallmarks of a classic.

It's a good idea to include an old track from their 2003 debut album here as well; The Place That I Call Home (The New Brunswick Song) is one of their best, and it could be our provincial patriotism is a little stronger these days. At least that's the feeling I get, especially from the young people who've decided to stay, and those who work away but return as often as they can. The group's tune reflects the usual story, a young person leaving for a city life, but coming back home when their search yields no little happiness, only a longing to return. It's filled with cliches, but all the right ones: purple violets, hay fields, maple trees being tapped, covered bridges and of course, fiddleheads. A song like this could be corny, but not when it has good lines that reflect truths we all feel: "I walk into the kitchen like I never said goodbye". It's a nice bonus to a strong album, start to finish.

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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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