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The Bills

Yes Please – 2013 (Red House)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by The Bills

It seemed not that long ago that The Bills made its masterful U.S. debut with "Let Em Run," an album that garnered a Juno nomination back home in Canada and made them a rookie outfit well worth watching. It set a high bar for their sophomore set, but it's also clear that the band is up to the task - seven years later. "Yes Please" affirms the special niche the band carved out for themselves that first time around, and if anything, it expands on their bluegrass trappings and hints at their desire to maintain a populist approach.

Freed from the need to initially make their mark, the group lets loose and has what appears to be a genuinely good time. That doesn't mean they're slacking off in any way; far from it in fact. Part of its skill set is the ability to mine more subtle instrumental trappings, allowing songs such as After Music, The Gardenton Waltz and Quarter Century Mazurka to take on the sound of strings when more delicacy is demanded. Elsewhere, they simply set their guitars, fiddles and mandolins ablaze, giving emphatic emphasis to tunes like Hallowed All and Shining Sun, each an example of the celebratory sound established early on.

Between those two extremes, there are multiple moments that take them further afield - the unexpected a cappella of Pandora's In Flames as well as the more adventurous tack taken with Scotch Bonnet, a complex instrumental excursion that Bela Fleck and the Flecktones would probably be pleased to call their own.

It's a credit to the band's dexterity that regardless of the arrangement or orientation, each of these songs actually fits The Bills.