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The Bills

Trail of Tales – 2016 (Borealis)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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Their unassuming handle aside, The Bills make a profound noise, never more evident than that evidenced on "Trail of Tales." While the band has never missed an opportunity to express their love for their roots, their environment and all things that come naturally, this album is especially affecting, given its strong sense of celebration and their unbounded determination to celebrate the music and the surroundings that are so near and dear to their origins.

As a Canadian band, that wider view comes naturally. Multi-ethnicity is a trait that many of their brethren embrace, both musically and culturally as well. Consequently, in both practice and precept, "Trail of Tales" takes an expansive view, beginning with the collaborative approach the five members took to integrate their contributions and culminating in an expansive - some might say, ambitious - view of the planet and the intersection between mankind and its habitat. If that seems a bit high minded, they dash those concerns with songs that ring with an effortless exhilaration. Fiddle, viola, mandolins, and accordions add a rustic sound to the mix, but it's the heartfelt expression that seeps into the swinging "Hittin' The Do," the forward thrust of the funkified "Jungle Doctor" and the soaring title track, which help underscore the enthusiasm overall and make of these songs literally seem to soar.

Ultimately, it's that cohesive dichotomy and unified intent that gives "Trail of Tales" its resilience and resolve. The Bills have succeeded in creating the most stirring set of songs of their 20-year career, one that initiates a new chapter in terms of their trajectory. Ironically however, it's definitive proof that this robust bunch has clearly been on the right road all along.