The Sweet Lowdown - Chasing the Sun
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Chasing the Sun (Self-released, 2014)

The Sweet Lowdown

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

You have to hand it to The Sweet Lowdown. They certainly know a thing or two about truth in advertising. On their lovely new album - their third to date - this Canadian trio live up to their collective handle by presenting a set of songs that's so sweet, so lovely and so enticing, it's akin to love at first listen. Making do with little more than their collective harmonies, guitar, fiddle and banjo, they create an enticing and intoxicating blend of bluegrass and old world melodies seemingly drawn from the pages of some hallowed journal of folk music standards.

That's a credit to this threesome, particularly fiddler Miriam Sonstenes, whose instrumental and songwriting skills help illuminate this effort entirely. Indeed, on tracks like "April 28th," "Bunching Up the Streets" and the medley combining the traditional tunes "Hell Flu Jig," "Margaret's Jig" and "Brokedown Breakdown," there's an air of authenticity that might otherwise suggest the album was inspired by legitimate old school sources.

Nevertheless, while the ladies' influences never stray far from the surface, it's a credit to their combined efforts that "Chasing the Sun" succeeds the way it does. The seamless three part a capella harmonies laced through "Leaving" show that they're not only adept at making the most fragile arrangements sound rich and robust, but also skilled at bringing their voices to bear in these sumptuous settings. Considering their limited instrumental arsenal, that's no small accomplishment. Rather, it's all the more reason to celebrate their simple yet singular MO.

Despite its otherwise modest embellishments, this album that makes an impressive imprint, one that signals the emergence of an outfit that bears watching.

CDs by The Sweet Lowdown

Chasing the Sun, 2014

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