The Barrowdowns have become familiar faces around the East Coast festival circuit. The Halifax-based alt folk quintet have worked hard, building a solid presence by putting in that stage time, making regular auditory deposits at your local sound bank. Now they’re making themselves available as a constant presence to your earholes with the release of their self-titled first EP just in time for this summer’s shindigs.
“We actually started recording the songs about a year ago, but right about the time we started mixing them festival season hit and we just ended up putting it on the back burner,” says guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Rowan Swain. “It’s kind of nice because we got to really take our time with it. It gave us a chance to focus on the live performance and try to let the EP evolve with that, then in the end we had it done just in time to release before this year’s festival season, so it worked out pretty well!”
Dave Fultz, banjoneer/multi-instrumentalist, says, “The EP was originally going to be the most diverse collection of tunes we could record at the time, which turned out amazingly well, but then our live set took off with the festival season, and we added a bunch of new tunes and sounds to the repertoire. It’s actually really nice to revisit this now, and remember how we began, and what defined us as a band. We could compare that to where we are now, and how things have changed, and what we should keep for the new tunes. Most notably harmonies. All the harmonies.”
The album itself is a bittersweet celebration of banjo rolls and banjo solos layered over pianos and violins like a haystack. It moves like a grieving process, beginning with a mournful, wandering, and slightly discordant instrumental intro that progresses into a haunting and almost spiteful ‘House Of Bones’:
“For all the roads that you have wandered, and all the ones you would. For all the ones you left behind, and the ones you never could. When all our days will soon be numbered, and all our words are spent. We’ll find the hills where we’ll be buried and rest our wearied heads.”
By the third track we’ve reached some form of acceptance with ‘A Living Wage’, while ‘Landlocked’, stacked full of harmonies, and easily the album’s cheeriest entry, seems to offer a glimmer of hope along a distant horizon. It’s the perfect soundtrack to get you over the end of fiddlehead season, your dory being washed away, or just another fruitless roll-up-the-rim. You’ll be ready for your next festival in no time.
For more information visit www.thebarrowdowns.com