We knew where this Canadian folk group were from without looking it up. We visited Prince Edward Island a few years ago to see the owner of the independent paper on the island (Halifax, Nova Scotia is only a five-hour flight from the UK). The omnipresence of Anne of Green Gables aside, it could be Cheshire, with its black and white dairy cows, potatoes (it produces 25% of Canada’s potatoes) and small fields. Except it would be Cheshire populated by Scots — lots of Scottish people live out there and you can be buying drinks from a random bartender one moment and having a detailed chat about the gasworks of the M8 only seconds later.
The East Pointers play traditional folk with a strong Celtic influence; as soon as we read they’d won Canada’s Juno award for traditional roots album of the year in 2017, we knew they’d be calling PEI home.
The group comprises guitarist Jake Charron, banjoist Koady Chaisson and fiddler Tim Chaisson and What We Leave Behind is their second album. It mixes the traditional with a more modern pop/RnB sound.
Instrumental opener Tanglewood kicks off with acoustic guitar, the folk leanings only emerging with the controlled banjo playing. The song morphs into an infectious reel with fiddle mid-way through and is a joyous tune that suggests dancing enthusiastically as the wind blows in from the Gulf of St Lawrence.
After that comes 82 Fires, a more solemn song with a Seth Lakeman sound inspired by the band seeing Australian wild fires of 2016; despite the topic it’s got a soaring chorus.
But there’s more joy in the instrumental Party Wave, with impressive banjo and a solid beat, though changes in rhythm litter the song. If it doesn’t make you want to book a holiday in the Highlands and buy a kilt, nothing will.
Two Weeks is another song; its opening bars are pop/RnB and it reflects on the shift work many rural Canadians are forced to endure. (In another adventure we got very drunk in the Athabasca oil sands town of Fort McMurray, where no-one seemed happy, and many were doing long stints away from home to earn money).
This mix of pop and roots continues with Miner’s Dream; we’d guess The East Pointers have an eye on making some money south of the border in the mainstream pop/country charts with the pop tunes, which are high in melody but see them ticking over on idle as far as their impressive musical chops go.