A good first album but it runs out of gas

Roots music keeps rolling into our area, and who are we to complain about that?

Roots music keeps rolling into our area, and who are we to complain about that?

As The Matchbox winds down their commitments, extraordinary talents are still to be presented.

This evening, remarkable folksinger James Keelaghan is onstage at The Matchbox.

Alpha Yaya Diallo brings an energetic blending of African and western sounds April 18 and Ben Sures has a CD release concert May 6. For these shows, contact the Matchbox for information and tickets.

Jeans Off House Concerts has singer-songwriter Cindy Doire April 14; JP Riemens and Dan Walsh visit April 23. Call 403-357-4728 for tickets and information.

Ben Plotnick and the Homebound Runaways come to The Hub April 29. Built around fiddle and bass, the quartet presents lively music that may remind some of Crooked Still. Tickets at the venue.

On May 1, the Waskasoo Bluegrass Music Society brings to Red Deer The Lost and Found, one of the most respected bands on the circuit. For almost 40 years, The Lost and Found has presented modern bluegrass that embraces the traditions of the music with an awareness that the music has never stood still.

This concert starts at 7:00 at the Elks Lodge, and tickets are available at 53rd Street Music, Red Deer Book Exchange, The Key Hole, Parkland Mall Service Desk, Innisfail’s Jackson’s Pharmasave, and Lacombe’s Popow’s Autobody.

It isn’t too early to make plans for the Canadian Rockies Cowboy Festival (May 27-29) or the Canadian Rockies Bluegrass Festival (June 17-19) at the David Thompson Resort, west of Nordegg. Call 1-888-810-2103 for information.

This week’s disc review:

Harlan Pepper

Young and Old

Self-released

A four-piece from Hamilton, Harlan Pepper is gaining attention across our country. When lead tracks Great Lakes and El Jandro bound from the speakers, it is easy to hear why.

This freshness continues through the album’s next four tunes, with the voices and instrumentation blurring distinctions between folk angst and earnest rock n roll swagger. The songs change pace beautifully, keeping listeners on their toes.

Barely out of high school, Dan Edmonds understands the power of the 5-string, how simple chords can texturize a song.

When they keep things straightforward, together Harlan Pepper craft music that not only provides promise for the future but which is satisfying to a level one doesn’t typically expect from those who haven’t yet reached their twenties.

Nuggets of lyrical cleverness are found within these songs and they also borrow liberally from influences one imagines were discovered exploring parental collections of classic rock, creating an imaginative and intriguing Junkhouse-Uncle Tupelo hybrid.

Unfortunately, Harlan Pepper runs out of ideas at around the 25-minute mark, stretching what might have been an admirable e.p. into a flawed album. The final three numbers lack the charm, originality, and grace of the preceding six.

When inane lyrics devoid of irony (“I owe a lot of people, so I smoke a little reefer and hope that my problems fade away”) lead the way into an album’s final third, the tank is empty.

The Burn-out, the album’s closer, is a garage rock throwaway notable only for the number of f-bombs dropped into ridiculous rambling.

Young and Old is a commendable if inconsistent debut.

Donald Teplyske is a local freelance writer who contributes a twice-monthly column on roots music; visit fervorcoulee.wordpress.com for additional reviews. If you know a roots music event of which he should be aware, contact him at fervorcoulee@shaw.ca