Hey Mavis- Red Wine   Leave a comment

Welcome to Fervor Coulee- I appreciate you dropping in for a visit. In this week’s Roots Music column in the Red Deer Advocate I advance the area roots shows and feature the new album from Hey Mavis. Silly name aside, this trio has produced- with the assistance of knob twirler and all-around good ear Don Dixon- a palatable platter of modern Americana string-band music. Go explore. Best, Donald

Roots Music Column, originally published October 1, 2010 in the Red Deer Advocate

Hey Mavis Red Wine Self-released

 The trio calling themselves Hey Mavis have struck upon a pleasing and adventurous blending of sound and influence.

Performing original music steeped in approaches of the past, with its two-woman, one-man alignment Hey Mavis immediately recall the simple josy of The Carter Family. The significant difference being the Hey Mavis songwriters are the females. Laurie Michelle Caner is the primary tunesmith while Sarah Benn contributes a pair of songs.

Without the context of this album, one could likely be convinced “Tell Me Lover True” is one of those treasures song-catchers scoured hills and hollers to discover almost a century ago. Within a sparse but keen framework, the words wring of another age: “Sing me lover true; come sing, sing to my bones.” “Sister Mary” is brighter than other songs contained on Red Wine, but its lightness betrays the song’s theme of sin and deception. Hit shuffle and a spirited and engaging song is sure to appear- whether “Second Chance” with its allusions to Texas dust and opportunity, the realization the memories and a leather jacket aren’t enough in “I Ain’t Gonna Cry”, or the title track’s strength revealed in both voice and instrumentation.

As do Crooked Still and Bearfoot, Hey Mavis provides sonic twists to what one expects from stringband-based roots music. Yes, there is banjo, fiddle, and double bass, but there is also viola prominently featured, providing songs with an entirely different atmosphere than one might anticipate.

Lacking the drive of bluegrass, this album is a lyrically rich and musically soothing collection of old-timey, acoustic soundscapes. The vocal harmony of Caner and Benn is a highlight of their natural presentation. Don Dixon’s (REM, Marti Jones, The Smithereens) production is clean and uncluttered, retaining the purity of the instruments and voices.

If Gillian Welch is a favourite, one should give serious consideration to the debut album from Ohio’s Hey Mavis.


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