High Waters – Goodnight Mara

8.1/10

If you like Radiohead and Hey Rosetta, read on.

Hailing from the Canadian capital, High Waters has created an album called Goodnight Mara that melds together soothing melodies with electronic textures and folk undertones.

It begins with “Up to the Sea,” a track that’s introduced by an acoustic guitar punching out quarter notes and quickly joined by the band embellishing the rhythm while adding spacious ambiance and richness to the sound. Already I know this album was well produced. The singer, Derek Connely, tells a tale of fighting against a sea, and it reminds me of Tim Baker, the frontman of Hey Rosetta. A couple of acoustic guitars break down the song with sweet, intricate riffs followed by a slide guitar solo. Next time I drive along a coast, I’ll be listening to this track.

“Mercury” starts with an effected guitar joined by a steady synth bass pumping out notes and occasionally breaking its nonstop tempo for the choruses. The tempo also slows right down halfway through the song before disappearing altogether, letting a funky electric guitar take over. This change in dynamics, rhythm, and flow keeps the music interesting and creates a real trip. Worth noting is all the gorgeous sounding effects used on the electric guitars as well as the electronic sounds introduced near the end of the track.

The next song is “Quiet guest,” and it brought me back to Elbow. The percussion sounds great on this album, whether it be the drum kit, hand claps, or other various shakers used. A vocal solo sung above an oriental sounding groove brings us back to the introductory guitar riff. “Obsidian” starts off with eerie effects swirling around the higher registers and are joined by Connely singing about making you his obsidian (a hard, dark, glasslike volcanic rock formed by the rapid solidification of lava without crystallization). What starts off as an arid sounding haunted barren track blooms into a gently waltzing tune that gave me the chills. The next song is called “Time and Again,” and it does a great job of fusing together ambiance and rocking vibes. Harmonized lyrics add depth and thicken the sound of the vocals. A great guitar solo is also heard on this track, while the bassist, Troy Huizinga, delivers solid line after line of tasteful riffing.

We get a taste of this band’s folk influences on the next song, “Holden.” Although starting and ending off quite delicately with the vocals heard only with an acoustic guitar, the inclusion of the band along with cellist, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, give this song a cinematic, epic feel. “The Greys” is a gentle ballad swimming in effects complemented by a gorgeous sounding ending. “Rip” showcases this band’s control of dynamics and creativity in their songwriting. The track goes through different moods and grooves, and kept my attention. A soul/funk intro starts off “Drop by Drop.” A groovy rhythmic pattern gave this song a tribal, danceable vibe. “Isabelle” is a beat-heavy song that is adorned by a multi-step phaser and tremolo manipulating the guitar sounds in time with the rhythm. The drums on this one sound huge! Next is “Heavy Bells,” a song that oozes swagger thanks to a soft sounding guitar line joined by a smooth bass that slides its way into the track for three sneaky notes. An expressive guitar solo handled by Martin Villeneuve closes this song, letting a string of feedback, effects, and a song sample from 1947 fade this track to its end. The last tune on Goodnight Mara is titled “The Act.” It’s a gentle rocker that delves into themes of urgency, honesty, and transparency.

There is so much to be said beyond what I wrote on this review. Any more would have busted the max word count, so if you like ambient, alternative rock with a side of folk, and a healthy dose of thought-provoking lyrics, this is it for you.

Written by Dave Tone
*edited by Danielle Kenedy

About Dave Tone 53 Articles
Lucky enough to be born into a musical family, Dave took piano lessons until he turned eleven and picked up a guitar. Having played in a bunch of musical projects in and around Gatineau, he moved to Montreal to pursue a life in music. He enjoys busking in the Montreal subway, singing songs by Sam Roberts, QotSA, Beck, Mutemath, Kasabian, Big Sugar and les Colocs, among others. His band, Diamond Tree, has released an EP, and plays in and around Montreal. Dave has traveled to British Columbia, France, the United States, Cuba, Kenya, Mozambique, and South Africa. His favorite sport is Air Hockey and yes, he'll have another beer, thank you.

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