If you ever you hear Canada’s band, West My Friend‘s music described as ‘folk’ feel free to storm away in disgust at such a mention because although folk lies at the heart of the trio’s sound, there is so much more.
It’s a little like saying Pablo Picasso was a painter, or Muhammed Ali was a boxer; West My Friend are musical wizards.
They’ve taken the small, unassuming genre of folk and have the audacity to bring in an orchestra and choir and have made something rather special.
We start in familiar territory on opening track ‘Fall Knows’ which introduces us to the vocal talents of singer/guitarist Eden Oliver, it’s stripped back a cappella delivers a haunting opener but when track two, ‘Salt Water’ arrives we’re treated to strings, woodwind and a layered orchestra arrangement that is full, cinematic and flippin’ brilliant!
The beauty of the album lies in the orchestral talent on show, this isn’t something cobbled together, this is fully transcribed for the musically educated that want more from folk music than guitars, dirty boots and whiffy woolly jumpers.
Oliver’s vocals when set against such an imposing musical recipe seems small but brave, feeling like a fish in a vast ocean, yet the combination works, sounding uplifting and positive.
Alex Rempel and Jeff Poynter – the second and third members of the band – have pieced together a fantastic piece of work, along with producer Joby Baker and arranger Adrian Dolan they’ve taken folk and taken it to an engaging place for fans of a bigger sound.
My pick of the tracks is ‘Old Song’ that sounds like it should be in the La La Land soundtrack with it’s big screen whimsy and impressive instrumental that changes tone this way and that.