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I can think of few records coming out of the East Coast this fall that have been as eagerly anticipated as “Yours to Break” by The East Pointers.
Given the rate at which their fan base has grown since the release of their Juno Award-winning debut, “Secret Victory” in 2015 and the subsequent success of 2017’s “What We Leave Behind”, that level of anticipation is hardly surprising.
That being said, living up to the kinds of expectations created by two great records in a row can place a lot of pressure on a band.
Basically, you’re expected to deliver something equally as good, if not better than anything else you’ve done to date.
And in the case of “Yours to Break” they have done just that.
They have delivered an exceptional record, one which while still deeply rooted in the traditional Celtic music they grew up with embraces so much more than that in terms of both the influence of other more contemporary styles of folk and pop music and in the manner in which they approached the recording process.
Helmed by award-winning songwriter and producer Gordie Sampson, “Yours to Break” is like a multi-level soundscape in which band members dive deep into big rolling grooves, wash across the senses like so many waves with these brilliant instrumental passages and then lift you up with these wonderful three-part harmonies.
It is literally a feast for the senses, you can feel it from the top of your head to the souls of your feet.
The East Pointers return to Charlottetown for a show at Confederation Centre of the Arts Nov. 30. If you hope to attend and haven’t purchased tickets yet you better act fast. As of Wednesday afternoon, when I last checked, there were less than a dozen left.
Vocalist/fiddle player Tim Chaisson has rightfully described the record as something of a departure from their previous offerings.
“We spent more time on production; experimenting with more percussion, bass and keys - all soundscapes that we’ve been bringing to our live show recently with acoustic instruments still at the forefront.”
He said he and bandmates Koady Chaisson (banjo/tenor guitar/Moog) and Jake Charron (guitar/keyboards) would like people to put on this album and feel like they can just let go, dancing the way they feel and swaying if they need a moment of reflection.
“Hopefully you’ll feel the instrumental jams just as much as the lyrics we dug deep to write.”
That there is more at play here than there has been in the past might have something to do with the fact the music was written in several different places around the world. Tim was in Costa Rica, Koady was in Australia and Jake was in England.
All of those experiences factored into the creation of this album. Their travels encouraged them to be more adventurous musically, to expand the range of influences they incorporated into the mix and to hold nothing back, letting the music take them in whatever direction they felt it should go.
If you love the high energy jams that have factored heavily in their live sets over the years there’s no shortage of that happening here on tracks like “Wintergreen”, “Power to Move” and “Country Cable” but that’s not all you’re going to find here.
They were all really strong players when they first pooled their talents to create this trio and have continued to grow and to evolve but their growth has not been limited to what they can do as musicians. They’ve also become better songwriters and the proof is all over the place on Yours To Break, on tracks like “Halfway Tree”, which I can’t get out of my head, “Elmira” and “If You’re Still In I’m In.”
Yours To Break is highly addictive, easily one of the best records I’ve come across this year. The live shows to promote this record are going to be killer.
(Rating: 4 out of 5 stars)
Doug Gallant is a freelance writer and well-known connoisseur of a wide variety of music. His On Track column will appear in The Guardian every second Saturday. To comment on what he has to say or to offer suggestions for future reviews, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.