Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Wilderness of Manitoba - When You Left the Fire (2011)

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My introduction to The Wilderness of Manitoba is thanks to the cool people of Amazon Mp3 who recently made "Summer Fires" available for free download as part of their Free Song of the Day. I didn't actually download the free track but I did check out the band. Turns out the Wilderness of Manitoba aren't actually from Manitoba but instead from the much more musically relevant Toronto.

Beginning with simple finger-picked guitar lines on "Orono Park", it's clear that When You Left the Fire is going to be enjoyable. And then a banjo enters followed almost immediatebly by group vocal harmonies and then there's no doubt in your mind it's going to be good. The folk quintet take their time and it's rewarded with great tunes practically bursting with the talent of all those enlisted to make it. As evidenced by the vaguely experimental "Hermit" (whose lyrics are where the album gets its name), The Wilderness of Manitoba aren't above seeking out less folksy elements to enhance their music making.

When You Left the Fire is a slow burner of an album, slowly building towards the positively mammoth 13 minute and change instrumental album closer "Reveries En Couleurs". It's also an album that's unabashedly folk. There's banjos, washboards, and a harmonica that disappears almost as suddenly as it appears. And yet this unashamedly folk album is far from boring. The quintet may take time before launching into the lyric side of things but that just means there's more time to enjoy the amazing melodies they come up with. That and it makes the vocals that much more appreciated when they do enter. When You Left the Fire maybe be a slow burner but it just gives you more time to appreciate all the little things the band does well. It's an album that's sure not to disappoint!

You can still get "Summer Fires" for free at Amazon here. Or get a taste of The Wilderness of Manitoba with a live video uploaded just last week featuring a non-album track called "Chasing Horses":

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