It’s extremely rare that Oz, Woody, and I all agree that we love an album. In fact, I’m not sure that it’s ever happened – at least it hasn’t quite to this level. But Athens, Ohio’s Southeast Engine has achieved the unthinkable with their latest album, Canary, due to release March 29th on lauded Misra Records, a sub-label of Chicago’s own Bloodshot Records.
What I love most about Canary is the fact that it’s a complete work, best enjoyed in it’s entirety. Lead singer Adam Remnant grew up in Ohio and has spent the majority of his life there, drawing inspiration for the album from the folklore and civilization that is and was Appalachia and southeast Ohio. If you close your eyes while you listen, you’ll swear you were watching characters from another time and place work to conquer the challenges that typify life in Appalachia. It’s a salt of the earth album, beautifully meandering between themes that personify the values and priorities of a simpler time – hard work, nature, family, government, religion, and love. It’s the type of album that makes hard times seem romantic.
Canary may be the best album I’ve heard so far this year. If HearYa has a vintage sound, this is darn close to being it. You’ll hear heavy folk, country, and bluegrass influences and certainly no shortage of stringed instruments, keys, and first-rate drumming. It’s beautiful lyrically, and is varied enough to keep you coming back for more. Standout tracks include the rocking “1933 (Great Depression),” “Ruthie,” “New Growth,” and “Adeline of the Appalachian Mountains.”
For those of you in Chicago, it’s your lucky week! Southeast Engine is rocking Schubas this coming Saturday night, February 19th. I’ll look for you there. In the meantime, sample a track from the new album below.