Grammar Fight (label)
08 November 2019 (released)
The albums opens on a high – ‘Fall Knows’ is sung acapella, just Eden Oliver’s magnificent voice, pure, calm, sonorous and utterly beautiful – and goes uphill from there.
As a band, they have been around for about 10 years and three albums and on the basis of this I must hear more of the three-piece from Victoria in Western Canada.
The untrammelled purity of ‘Fall Knows’ is followed by the full orchestral ‘Salt Water’ Oliver’s vocals alongside Alex Repel’s mandolin and Jeff Poynter’s piano and a full orchestra and choir. The quality of the production and the band’s performance is such that the orchestra lifts their sound rather than obscuring it and the song takes on a fully symphonic essence with vocals to the fore.
I get the feeling that their core is in folk music and ‘Build A Bed’ has a folk heart to it but they play perfectly with the orchestra, Poynter’s accordion playing its part as well as harmony vocals from Poynter and Rempel, a gorgeous mandolin solo from Rempel. Far from a piece of parts, it all works together to maximise the song.
Oliver shows she can sing in a jazzier mood as well on ‘Old Song’, the orchestra taking on an almost Nelson Riddle like presence and then we are back to the beautiful with Shape Of A Home’ with Eden Oliver dropping back to that gorgeous, resonant vocal backed by strings with cello to the fore.
Oliver wrote both ‘Fall Knows’ and ‘Shape Of A Home’ and the rest of the songs were written with the other members of West My Friend.
As a new listener to West My Friend I listened to this album again and again, just picking up new elements of the music, little touches and inflections and for the sheer delight of listening to one of the most delicious albums of the year. It gave me chills and thrills in equal measure.