You can’t beat stereotypes and a cliché for the Maritimes (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island) to which Newfoundland abuts is that everyone makes music. A bit like Shetland, where schoolchildren get free instruments.
So knowing that The Once were Newfies meant we were expecting quality music, and quality it is. It’s firmly in the pop camp, with only a touch of a folk influence, and in sound it reminds us most — a lot — of More Adventurous-era Rilo Kiley, slightly whimsical country-tinged pop that charms the listener rather than hitting one between the eyes with hooks and melody. Even some of the lyrics — “If wishes were fishes” -— are a bit Rilo Kiley.
Opener I Can’t Live Without You is one of the stronger songs, a slow number with a 1970s Fleetwood Mac vibe. The vocals are sweet but not saccharine and the chorus wistful.
Before The Fall is slower and has more of a groove, a kind of slow folky Tom Petty; Any Other Way is slightly faster Tom Petty cum folk — there’s something of the Magic Numbers in the guitar, too.
For fans of Fleetwood Mac, Magic Numbers and Rilo Kiley; like Rilo it flags a little in places, but when they get it right, it’s likeable.