Album Review | Self Release | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 3/5
Over The Moon are a Canadian Roots/Swing duo. Moondancer, their debut album was recorded in their ranch in the foothills of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains and just oozes with integrity and charm. The album packaging features an atmospheric photograph of Over The Moon with Suzanne Lovesque and Craig Bignall, against the landscape of their home. They are holding their instruments, faces set like frontier pioneer farmers in a hand coloured 19th century photograph. Over The Moon don’t look like soft musos on a dude ranch, they look like they live the life they write about or write about the life they lead. From “Strangers We Meet” and tracks like “By The Mark”, the interplay of Craig and Suzanne’s voices, harmonising, alternating lines or creating syncopation are simply glorious. Instruments like Craig’s Banjo and Aaron Young’s electric guitar help paint the picture, but the voices are the star. “House On The Hill” is a less sentimental take on Graham Nash’s “Our House”. Feels like a Kathrine Edwards track with that Country ballad feel. “Turtle Mountain” is an anthemic song, documenting the 1903 Crowsnest Pass disaster. Suzanne’s vocal is powerful and chilling on this band composition, a folk standard in the making. Again Aaron Young’s acoustic picking is fine around Craig’s banjo. The bursts of Dents Dufresne’s violin and the tune give this a sense of Fairport’s “Matty Groves”. “Over The Moon” and “Alberta Moon” are feel good tunes with that loose warm feeling of Western Swing and the best of Leon Redbone a Canadian by association. Accordion and Clarinet on “Alberta Moon” slide by beautifully. “Moondancer” by Canadian legend Ian Tyson, himself a chronicler of the rural life and a neighbour to Over The Moon, is an album highlight, with the feel of an early Eagles track. Again Suzanne’s vocal, against washes of steel guitar and accordion, is just a joy. “By The Mark” is a considered and heartfelt reading of the David Rawlings and Gillian Welch song. The less is more approach really works here with space given to the wonderful harmonies. “The Hills of Grey County”, dealing with ecological concerns and the perils of distant big business is another Folk song in the making. Over The Moon’s reading of Henry Hipkens’ “That’s How I Learned To Sing The Blues” is warmer than Hipken’s empty bottle drawl, but theirs has a New Orleans French Mardi Gras swagger. This is a love gone cold song you can dance to, rather than cry into your whisky to. Rob Loree’s atmospheric character sketches on the cover, from the hapless troubadour about to get bucked to the reflective banjo player inside, have a Grant Wood folksy charm, but I am not sure they do the band or the music justice. There is grit, integrity and a power in these tracks, sometimes raw, sometimes charming with a sense of place and honesty that just shines through. The characters in the booklet raise a wry smile but the music leaves a much stronger lasting and deeper impression of warmth and a real life being lived.