The Waves, The Wake Great Lake Swimmers
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- 1The Talking Wind04:22
- 2In a Certain Light03:23
- 3Alone but Not Alone03:17
- 4Falling Apart04:36
- 5Side Effects03:37
- 6The Real Work04:51
- 7Root Systems03:20
- 8Unmaking the Bed03:57
- 9Visions of a Different World02:31
- 10Holding Nothing Back03:51
- 11Mouth of Flames04:09
- 12The Open Sea06:23
Info for The Waves, The Wake
2018 marks the 15th anniversary of Great Lake Swimmers. Over seven albums, multiple EPs, live broadcasts, and reissues, the Toronto-based project led by singer-songwriter Tony Dekker has established itself as a beloved indie folk act in their native Canada and beyond. The CBC has called them “a national treasure” while their music has taken them around the world, sharing a sound that is at once familiar and distinct, using the tools of folk music as the starting point to delve deeper.
It’s this contrast and evolution that brings them to their latest release, The Waves, The Wake – a metaphor for the future ahead, and the past trailing behind. Abandoning the acoustic guitar, this new collection of songs sees the group branching out to include new sounds such as harp, lute, pipe organ, woodwinds, congas and marimbas, alongside the more familiar flecks and chimes of the banjo, piano, and 12-string electric guitar. The stunning acoustics of the historic, 145 year old Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ontario lend the atmospheric touch to the album, under the guidance of co-producer Chris Stringer (Union Sound). This record is about the songs, first and foremost, and was made with many of Toronto’s most talented players, including arrangements by Drew Jurecka and electric guitar appearances both atmospheric and spirited by Kevin Kane (Grapes Of Wrath). Long time collaborators Erik Arnesen (banjo, guitar), Bret Higgins (bass), and Josh Van Tassel (percussion) also contribute their considerable musicianship.
“The Talking Wind” opens the album solely with woodwinds and vocals, setting the tone with its scaled back, minimalist approach. Similarly sparse arrangements on “Falling Apart” pair a meditative, layered piano with an appearance by renowned harpist Mary Lattimore alongside Dekker’s haunting, plaintive vocals. Bridging the album to the group’s past work, the lonely jangle of “Alone But Not Alone” is a study in song-craft; “Side Effects” matches lyrical substance to musical motifs with its expressive vibraphone, tempo variations, and vocal effects.
But perhaps the album’s centerpiece is the entirely a cappella “Visions Of A Different World” with its ghostly, longing vocals nakedly bearing its message.
Great Lake Swimmers
Great Lake Swimmers
Featuring a blend of acoustic instruments, rural soundscapes, and wistful vocals, Great Lake Swimmers are an indie folk group led by songwriter/vocalist Tony Dekker. The group first appeared in 2003 with a haunting self-titled debut that was recorded in a grain silo and released by Weewerk Records, a small label based in the band's native Toronto. Misra Records picked up the record and released it stateside in April 2005. Recording sessions for Great Lake Swimmers' second album began that same year, with the band taking up residence in an old church in rural southern Ontario. The finished product, Bodies and Minds, was released toward the end of 2006, featuring another blend of homespun folk and lush, intimate Americana.
Ongiara Although already popular in Canada, the band began building a wider audience in 2007 by signing to a new label, Nettwerk, and releasing the well-received Ongiara. The album's first track, "Your Rocky Spine," topped the Canadian indie charts and appeared on the soundtrack to Showtime's Weeds. Such increased attention kept Great Lake Swimmers on tour for the better part of two years, but they still managed to take some time off to record a fourth album. Traveling between multiple locations in the Thousand Islands region and elsewhere in northern New York state, the group hit a creative high peak with Lost Channels, which was released in 2009. The Legion Sessions, an EP featuring live versions of several Lost Channels tunes, also appeared that year. In 2012 Great Lake Swimmers released New Wild Everywhere, their first album to be recorded in a traditional studio. For 2015's A Forest of Arms, the group recorded in studios, small music venues, and a variety of unconventional spaces, including Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves, the oldest natural cavern in Ontario.