A beautiful place to get lost

In Canada, Toronto is about as far as you can possibly get from anything approaching a natural wilderness. And that’s what makes it so surprising that one of the country’s best pastoral folk groups, Great Lake Swimmers, is Toronto-based. On the newly-released Lost Channels, the quintet sounds almost like a Newfie band, especially on the lead single “Pulling on a Line.” With high, harmonied verses and a deep, sea-shanty chorus, the song’s strummy mixture of guitars and mandolins sounds inherently nautical. Even when singing about a dirty metropolis, as they do on “Concrete Heart,” Great Lake Swimmers always come off as lush and organic, thanks to the largely acoustic arrangements that include a sawing fiddle and the occasional banjo. Best of all is “Everything is Moving So Fast,” a dreamy, mid-tempo groove that belies its title with reverb-soaked arpeggios and soothing vocal harmonies from singers Tony Dekker and Julie Fader.

The album’s only failing is its pacing: by stacking the slowest songs together at the end, Lost Channels finishes on somewhat of an anticlimax. The ballads are unfailingly gorgeous, but they could have more impact if interspersed between the more upbeat material towards the front of the disk. Still, its a minor complaint, since the quality of the songwriting never lags.

The band shot an appropriately rustic video for “Pulling on a Line,” featuring Tony Dekker singing the song from within a boat in the middle of a misty forest. The scene is lit with antique lamps, and features a bunch of children dressed as animals. It might come off as a little creepy if only the song weren’t so gorgeous; as it is, it’s more A Midsummer Night’s Dream than Friday the 13th.

Lost Channels is out now via Nettwerk.
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