Canada has been home to some of my favourite indie/folk bands. From the beguiling Weakerthans to the Americana of The Details, the rustic Rural Alberta Advantage and the bluesy Constantines, the stark natural beauty has helped shape and influence some fabulous and heartfelt music. With ‘The Forgotten And The Brave’, Owls By Nature have delivered an enjoyable, if slightly prosaic, take on rootsy folk-rock that, while not in the same bracket as the aforementioned acts, warrants repeated listens.
Hailing from Edmonton, the rootsy five-piece are at their best when they throw down some rousing, foot-stomping folk-rock, and ‘The forgotten And The Brave’ starts off like a freight-train thundering across the rolling tundra. Opening salvo of ‘Brothers’ and ‘Little Birds’ are prime examples of this classic, no-frills approach. Recalling The Gaslight Anthem circa ‘American Slang’, they’re authentic slices of rock’n’roll that charge along, backed up by a couple of great choruses, some nifty keyboard lines line and intense drumming. ‘Dancing Girl’ is another fine cut. Perhaps owing more to classic rock (indeed, the story in the song is as old as Kiss’ make-up), it’s nevertheless a brilliant, fist-in-the-air rock song.
However, this timelessness is also ‘The Forgotten And The Brave’s biggest drawback. Lyrically, there’s simply too many clichés running throughout and the song structures are just too simplistic – especially compared to the bands listed in the introduction. ‘Darkness’ is monumentally repetitive about ‘fearing the darkness’, while even ‘Dancing Girl’, delivers the brilliant/stupid “She take me out, shows me On-tar-rio. This is her town. This is Tor-ron-to” . I love it – but I’m embarrassed to even admit it.
They also run out of steam towards the ends of the record. ‘Would’ and ‘Wrigley Field’ are both lovely songs, but a little too beige to leave a lasting impression, while ‘Honesty’ – which is the big rousing number is just a little too trite.
Overall, the unashamed rock songs ensure ‘The Forgotten And The Brave’ is an enjoyable listen, provided you don’t pay too much attention to the lyrics. It’s a real shame as musically they’re on the money and with a little more care over the lyrics, I could really get behind Owls By Nature.
‘The Forgotten And The Brave’ by Owls By Nature is out now on Gunner Records.
Owls By Nature links: Facebook|Twitter|Bandcamp
Words by Rob Mair (@BobNightMair