Tue, Nov 5, 2013.
The Stanfields can make a mighty noise, no questions. They'll continue to do just that, as one of the country's top touring acts right now, but first they have some old business to attend to. The group started out like most others, playing songs they love on acoustic guitars for each other. As they progressed, their take on folk music developed, and so did the volume as they moved to pubs. But at the heart of the big sound are high-quality original songs, which have words well worth hearing. And being good East Coasters, they can play their instruments, too.
Even though their gusto and attack are a big part of what's grand about the band, it's also a treat to hear them in acoustic mode. This new one sees them unplugged and more in a story-telling mode, and good thing too. It puts the spotlight on the tales, and for anyone who has considered them only for dancing purposes, it's time to listen up. The Bloody Dotted Line, complete with intricate bouzouki, mandolin and guitar picking, is about doing deals with devils, with veiled references to banks, music contracts, and selling out, but all done in a trad feel from way back when. Whistle And A Grin is more upbeat, again with lots of period language, a good beer-haul number. Hard Miles takes a more modern approach, with an electric slide, but still with that Celtic flavour, and Steve Earle would approve.
I've certainly thought the band was strong before, but For King And Country has impressed me just as much. These guys are strong writers and strong players, and all the attitude and volume in the world can't get you by without that.
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Bob 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).