It might be their debut, but chances are you’ve seen them at some point in the last 3 years, at events like the NL Folk Festival, Writers at Woody Point, the March Hare, or Folk Night at the Ship. It never hurts to build an audience before an album release, nor to road test the tunes before committing them to tape.
Allan Byrne’s guitar work on the album is as varied as it is good, and that’s a big part of why The Blue Drop sound quite unlike anything else happening in town right now – think equal parts folk and country infused with saxophones and fiddles.
Not to box them in – every song on the album feels like it came from a different songwriter, which is in itself an impressive feat that adds appeal to the album. Generally you like a band or you don’t. But by displaying the diversity of sound here, they’re appealing to a multitude of tastes: one song for nan, another for your cool kid cousin. More impressively: there is a unified cohesion binding the varied sounds together.
They’ve also nailed the two traits a duo must nail: solid harmonies (check) and, with minimalistic songs like “Three Chords” that place lyrics in the forefront, the lyrics ought to count. They do here, and it helps that Holly Hogan & Allan Byrne co-write half their stuff with Holly’s husband: the acclaimed poet and novelist, Michael Crummey.
Lyrically speaking alone, “Hey Grim Reaper” is simply stellar stuff. They’ve even gotten the stamp of approval from Canada’s finest musical lyricist, John K. Samson. “Holly and Allan’s remarkable collaboration brims with thoughtful harmonies, profound insights, and exceptional skill.”
It helps immensely that Byrne and Hogan are joined on the album by a rotating cast of musical characters who really know what they’re doing. Flourishes of Hammond organ, upright bass, mandolin, banjo, cello, violins, violas, fiddles, and even trombone make appearances throughout the album.
Songs like ‘Three Chords” and “Something Blues” might shine the brightest: they’re folk-country minus the twang, and imbued in blues and jazz stylings, in other words: interesting stuff. There are two covers on the album as well: an interpretation of Tom Waits’ “I Want You/Blue Skies” and The Magnetic Fields’ “The Book of Love.” The latter is an immediate standout.
Catch their album release this Thursday, Nov. 4th, at the LSPU Hall. 8 PM. There’ll be some secret/special guests to boot.