GREAT LAKE SWIMMERS
A Forest Of Arms is the sixth album from Tony Dekker’s Great Lake Swimmers and the follow up to 2012’s New Wild Everywhere. With a surging rhythm section, razor sharp violin, and flourishing banjo and guitars, Dekker and band mates have pushed their sound significantly, creating some of their most dynamic songs ever recorded.
Those familiar with the decade-long output of Great Lake Swimmers will recognize the thematic threads of beauty in the natural world, environmental issues and explorations of close personal ties that hold us together. The familiar versus the strange theme is also running through this record, both in the instrumentation and in the song writing.
Last year saw their debut headlining performance at Toronto’s historic Massey Hall, which was documented for the Live At Massey Hall series. The band also participated in the Polaris cover sessions with their version of Sarah Harmer’s “I’m A Mountain.”
Formed in 2002, Elliott Brood (the name, a bastardized homage to the fem fatal character in the 1984 Baseball film 'The Natural') united teenage pals Sasso and Laforet over their grown-up love for Neil Young, the Band and the Flying Burrito Brothers. Pitkin was an accidental miracle: he fell into the group after working sound at one of their earliest concerts, offering to record their first EP. Tin Type was a college radio hit and soon this compact trio was making some big noise. Across five subsequent albums, sharing vocals and trading instruments - each of the band-members seems to play everything - Elliott Brood have become one of the premier acts in Canadian roots music.
For their fifth album, Elliott Brood wanted to break things. 2008's Mountain Meadows was shortlisted for the Polaris Prize, and the band's last record, Days Into Years, won a 2011 Juno award for roots album of the year. Now was the time to smash the precedents, break the mould. To withdraw to a farmhouse in Bath, Ontario, hammering out nine songs in two weeks.
These songs are loud and quiet but mostly loud, and always reaching toward something. First loves, lost loves, fuck-ups and young men's just desserts. Laforet has called Work and Love a "lament for youth", but it's also a eulogy for the moments that came just after, on the doorstep of manhood. It's music of remembered abandon, new burdens, and those nights, years ago, when the moonlit fields seemed to go on forever. It's Elliott Brood at their sheerest, facing forward and backward at the same time.