Friday, April 11, 2014


A 2013 nominees for Young Performer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, 20-year old McLean is from Regina.  This is his first full album after an EP earned him all the attention last year, and brings a fresh, fun approach to his acoustic tunes.  The instruments are outside the norm, with unique combinations and arrangements.  Opener Slow-Mo-Ocean starts with keyboard mixed with bowed double bass, before acoustic guitar and percussion turns it upbeat.  On the break between verses, a fun horn section of trumpet, trombone and tuba joins in.  The next verse adds a toy piano, before some wordless vocals against the trumpet take it into the air.  That's a lot in a folk song.

Several of the songs have a lo-fi feel, slightly over-recorded vocals give them a demo feel, bedroom music rather than studio clean stuff.  It adds to the intimacy, even with all those various sounds coming at us.  Lyrically the playfulness continues, at times recalling the sillier side of Beatles White Album era, or McCartney's fragments from Ram.  The lovely melodies only add to that.  McLean has some chops on acoustic as well, lots of nice finger work fills in the space before yet another fascinating part drops in, whether its a clarinet line or trumpet solo.  The words come thick and fast and interesting, all in all a wonderful listen.

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