United Steel Workers of Montreal- Three on the Tree   Leave a comment


United Steel Workers of Montreal

Three on the Tree

Weewerk

One of Montreal’s most popular live acts, the United Steel Workers of Montreal combine country, bluegrass, folk, and rock elements in a manner similar to, but not exceeding, roots supergroup The Knitters.

There is little on this third album that is groundbreaking. Ballads revealing poor decision making and tough times bumper up to hard rocking drivers that aren’t nearly as dark as they seem. Nonetheless, the album provides more than a terrific listen, allowing those of us who don’t live on the wild side opportunity to vicariously experience others’ exploits.

 This tough, edgy blend may be favoured by those who have enjoyed Drive-By Truckers, the Earl Brothers, and The Gourds; USWM’s music attacks the listener without being obnoxious. The instrumentation is not dissimilar to that emanating from any roots bar, but Matt Watson’s electric guitar work encourages the sound above and beyond a boisterous din. Banjo, accordion, and mandolin float in and out, providing a neat, tight tapestry of music.

Vocally, listeners are in for a treat. Gern f.- yes, that’s his name- has a growl that wouldn’t be out of place on any Bloodshot compilation, but he never slips into parody. The songs possess a tension, and one is unsure if he is going to keep things between the lines. However, Gern f. is a rich, melodic singer; the subtle textures of his voice are likely missed on first listen, but with familiarity one comes to more fully appreciate the complexity of his sound.

Also impressive are Shawn ‘Gus’ Beauchamp’s killer honky tonk lead vocals; he can flat out sing a country song, as revealed on Son, Your Daddy Was Bad. Balancing the male voices is the spry-voiced Felicity Hamer, who takes lead on a few tracks while providing lovely harmony throughout. The Ballad of Mary Gallagher is certain to haunt listeners, a contemporary folk tale of a life unjustly ended.

Three on the Tree is an intriguing example of Canadian music, and a breath of freshness amidst the quaint faux folk permeating the roots landscape.

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