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Annie Lou

Tried and True – 2014 (Annie Lou Music)

Reviewed by Michael Rampa

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As a musician staunchly steeped in string band, it seems somewhat unsurprising that Anne Louise Genest has only recently experienced the luxury of running water and indoor plumbing. Genest fronts Canadian roots band Annie Lou.

After 20 years in the desolate Yukon drawing from one of the oldest genres in history, she recently relocated to Vancouver Island. Perhaps coincidentally, the band's third release, "Tried and True" pushes beyond her early roots into the present day. The 13-track collection features pedal steel, electric fiddle and even a few danceable numbers.

Genest's remarkable songwriting about the tales of rural Canada remains a constant. The compositions move across a range of emotions and each evokes the right texture. "This music has an edge to it-in the voices and in the playing is the lament we all carry as people just trying to get by," she said.

The atypically bouncy "In The Country" would fit seamlessly into the "Urban Cowboy" soundtrack while the bluegrass speed picking on "Nine Bridges Down" is more than suitable for a traditional festival.

Genest's unique voice rarely draws comparisons, but Burke Carroll's pedal steel driven cover of Hazel Dickens's "It's Hard To Tell the Singer from The Song" brings Patsy Cline immediately to mind. With Andrew Collins producing again, the texture here is slicker than on the award winning predecessor, "Grandma's Rules For Drinking."

This album feels less like an evolution and more of a diversion from the band's core competency. This may prove to be favorable as new audiences may dig deeper into the catalog and discover their roots capabilities. Tried and true music staples are always new to someone, kind of like running water and indoor plumbing.