I developed a love and appreciation for acoustic folk music when I started listening to City and Colour, which was apparently a decade ago according to my Sometimes record. Feeling old yet? Yeah, me too. Had I not discovered them (yes, I was influenced by my Alexisonfire obsession), any record associated with the word ‘folk’ would have been a complete write off. Thanks to City and Colour, I also decided that not everything I listen to needs to be cranked up to eleven; which leads me to my most recent discovery, the band Old Towns.
Old Towns is a folk-punk band from Edmonton, Alberta composed of Robbie Shirriffs and Jordan Belanger. Their newest EP titled Northey Sessions consists of four tracks, all sitting at roughly three minutes long. The first two tracks have much of the same chord progression, the only difference being that “Freight Train Blues” is quicker in tempo. Minus the bluegrass feel, I was reminded of “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life)” by Green Day when I first heard this tune.
Every folk song tells a story; I mean, that’s part of what makes them so great, right? My personal favourite on this EP is track two, “Better Years,” probably because it was so relatable for me. The song talks about how your good intentions are always being walked on, leaving you feeling let down, and trying to move forward to better things and a better you.
If you’re not into bluegrass music, which I am not, then I suggest you just skip this next track, because the only thing I have to say about “Strathcona” is that there’s a lot of banjo. With simple acoustics, the final track “Swear Like A Sailor” is similar to the first two tracks, but the lyrics are what really make the song. He talks about being unable to escape thoughts that bring you down, and that drowning them in alcohol seems to be the only form of temporary relief. A bit of a sorrowful ending to the EP, but good nonetheless!
Overall, I found myself wishing for a little bit more acoustic harmony to take the edge off of the basic strumming patterns, but I would still recommend it to anyone who is a fan of folk music with a touch of bluegrass. You can check out Northey Sessions on Old Towns’ bandcamp page, and check their Facebook page for upcoming shows.
Written by Jamilyn Markell