Prince Edward Island’s The East Pointers introduced their second album this fall as a follow up to their Juno Award-winning debut Secret Victory, released in 2015. What We Leave Behind is an eclectic mix of country, pop and blue grass embedded in traditional jigs and folk roots. Known for their ability to reach listeners around the globe with their warm and distinct celtic sound, fiddler/singer Tim Chaisson, banjoist Koady Chaisson and guitarist Jake Charron alongside Canadian singer/songwriter Gordie Sampson produced eleven tracks that weave together stories about life on the sea, travels abroad and historical accounts of tragedies while all echoing hope, love, and loss.
Listening to this album is like listening to a true story that we can all relate to. From living as musicians at home and on the road to the hardships of working in the oil fields and mines and disasters all too familiar in Canada, such as wild fires, inspiration for the album seems to be drawn from as much darkness as light around the band.
The single ‘82 Fires’ — co-written by Gordie Sampson — begins with a simple but captivating tambourine beat and banjo line with the lyrics “Earth has come to claim her country screaming out for rain.” The song is based upon the band’s tour in Tasmania during the 2016 bushfires and their lived experience of it. As Koady Chaisson explains, “It was a restless few days for us. It hit home the severity of what we were all experiencing. Small human decisions about where to live or whether or not the show would go on didn’t matter, Mother Nature would always have the final say.”
The song that stood out on the album the most and really resonated in terms of representing East Coast culture is ‘Two Weeks’, co-written by Gordie Sampson. It is about the harsh reality of working in Alberta and the longing to return home someday. Relationships become strained and close ties distant. The chorus is contagious with lyrics that penetrate:
“I’m killing my soul for the life that I’m leaving behind. Two weeks on and two weeks off, my blood is wearing thin and my stomach is in knots. Too much thinking about the time you’ve lost when it’s two weeks on and two weeks off”
Other notable tracks are ‘John Wallace’, a snapshot of the true story of the 19th century shipwreck off the coast of Prince Edward Island, and ‘Hid From Your Heart’, about the band’s perspective on tragedy. The song rings with soft acoustic guitar and heartfelt vocals that are reminiscent of country/pop. Instrumentals like ‘Tanglewood’ mix modern melody with traditional celtic lines with imagery from dark to light and day to night. With a blend of flowing instrumental & vocal tracks, the record centres around a theme of familiar, sobering tales of past and present life.
The mood of What We Leave Behind is sombre at times, with soft fiddle solos, contrasted with uplifting rhythms using the tambourine and fast tempos on the banjo. The liveliness is as colourful and unique as their style in traditional folk roots music, and as the tapestry of Atlantic Canada. What We Leave Behind is the perfect blend of genres within traditional roots music, and heartfelt and honest songwriting.