After yesterday’s Canadian contribution to the site we’ve kept up the theme with Toronto trio Elliott Brood’s album, released on November 4th via Paper Bag Records. Their most personal and urgent album to date, Work and Love was recorded in a farmhouse in Bath, Ontario with the help of producer Ian Blurton (The Weakerthans, Amy Millan), and is their first time working with an outside producer. Select tracks feature Aaron Goldstein (City and Colour) on pedal steel and John DInsmore (Kathleen Edwards, Sarah Harmer) on bass.
Even from opening track Little Ones, it’s hard to believe that it’s only a trio making all that noise but when you consider they’ve over ten instruments between them and three voices blended together, it’s a little easier to take it. The impression of a full, built up band remains though, and loud, optimistic vocals lead where the music can’t, at first having the fight for attention and only becoming clearer once the instrumental ebbs off slightly. The lyricism provides a certain nostalgic effect on the music, which is unsurprisingly considered the themes on the record; Casey Laforet and Mark Sasso decided to mine the bare histories of their own lives: penning verses about the ends of relationships and the tests of adulthood, long drives, childhood retreating in a rear-view mirror.
Although there’s an overpowering amount kicking off in the opener, if songs could be picturesque, that’s what it’d be. In contrast, Nothing Left opens much more simplistically; a one-man-and-his-instrument style. As the track picks up and later dips to a more electronically infused sound, the infectious positivity remains a theme, and one that proves to last for the majority for the album, with Tired taking on the same style of dipping in the electric and more modern edge of roots music. Hazier vocals on this track become lost in the sound at moments, and at others hints of Crowded House seem to shine in.
More mellowed out Taken only makes itself known through a muddle of layers, slowly picking up the spirit of the track before ebbing off into a long piano-lead close, where voices blend to instruments and carry the sound. Mission Bell is welcomed into the track with the sound of church bells, slipping through the sound of a western movie to a drum focus akin to Vampire Weekend’s Finger Back for a moment, before rolling into a classic-roots-meets-electro sound; it’s an eclectic track, with a busy focus of noise surrounding everything.
Jigsaw Heart easily makes it as my favourite track off the record; the start that opens much like a summer advert winds into rather typical lyricism for the genre, with the refrain “I’m going home for a little while” leading the track. It’s continuously refreshing, though, and the optimism is hard to beat; the sort of song to play around a campfire. Mellowed out Each Other’s Kids hold a more consistent backing, and after a striped back radio recording start, Better Times seems to rope in a few R.E.M. influences. Not only boasting a fitting title, End of the Day proves to be suitably slow for the finale of the album, a sense of conclusion running through the track.
Work and Love is the roots album for people who don’t know where to start with the genre; the modern edges make it accessible and the realistic lyricism implores you to continue listening.