Review: Over the Moon, “Moondancer”

Over the Moon - Moondancer

Alberta folk/swing duo Over the Moon has released a delightful set of songs with their debut album, “Moondancer.”  Suzanne Levesque and Craig Bignell, multi-instrumentalists who met several years ago, married, and decided to pair up professionally, have together created a project full of delicate harmonies and terrific playing.  This terrific album has been great company for several days now.

The album starts with a gorgeous cover of Ray Hughes’ song “Strangers We Meet.”  (Out of curiosity, I found the original recording of this song; although it’s lovely, I find I much prefer Over the Moon’s less studied approach to the song.)  The engaging “House on the Hill” follows, an original composition that reminds me thematically of Jimmy Webb’s song “If These Walls Could Speak” – depicting the idea of that place we all have, that holds our hearts and which we forever think of as home, no matter how far we go.

After I heard the next song, “Turtle Mountain,” I found myself inquiring of the artists about its subject.  As I learned, their tune tells the story of one of Canada’s largest landslides – one that took out a significant portion of Frank, Northwest Territories in April 1903.  (You can read more about it here.)  This is a story that Over the Moon tell skillfully, building the intensity of their song as the tension of the narrative increases.

In addition to several great folk songs, Over the Moon highlight their swing roots beautifully with songs like “Over the Moon,” “You Don’t Even Know,” and “Alberta Moon.”  These songs in particular remind me so much of youthful evenings spent with my parents watching The Lawrence Welk Show – beautiful playing, great singing, and toe-tapping rhythms.  (Unlike my sister, I came away from those evenings with a deep appreciation of the music shared…)

“By the Mark” is a tune originally written by David Rawlings and Gillian Welch (the first gospel song they wrote, according to one source).  Even if traditional gospel singing is not a genre to which you usually gravitate, give Over the Moon’s rendition of this song a chance – it’s wonderfully sung, heartfelt without being overdone.

“The Hills of Grey County” is one of the prettiest activist songs you’ll hear, an eloquent plea for developers, drillers, and others to leave the land – and especially the hills – intact for future generations to enjoy and appreciate.  Over the Moon ask (rightly), “Some will get rich, but who’s going to pay / If we let them take the hills of Grey County away?”

As I said, I’ve truly enjoyed listening to this album.  At various points during my workdays, I’ve found myself unconsciously swaying to the music, unable to keep myself from moving to the music – a great compliment to the artists.  (Not drooping over my work has been a refreshing change, for which I thank them!)  Fans of folk, roots, and/or swing music should definitely give this album a listen – highly recommended.  Hopefully Over the Moon will come east and/or south so Team GDW gets a chance to hear them live – I bet they’re exceptional in concert.

~ L

Visit Over the Moon’s website.

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