Review: The East Pointers, “Yours to Break”

East Pointers - Yours to Break

JUNO Award winning traditional-folk trio The East Pointers release their highly anticipated third album, titled “Yours To Break,” today.  Following their debut “Secret Victory” and sophomore “What We Leave Behind” albums (both reviewed here at GDW – hey, we’re big fans of these guys), “Yours To Break” finds the band continue their quest to fuse traditional Celtic roots music with their own, modern-day interpretation of the genre.  While “Secret Victory” leaned towards the traditional, the shift towards a modern-contemporary sound (and additional vocal tracks) on “What We Leave Behind” truly redefined the genre.  And with “Yours To Break,” The East Pointers demonstrate once again their willingness to challenge themselves, pushing previous boundaries and adding yet more complexity to their signature sound.

Produced by multiple GRAMMY and JUNO Award winning songwriter and renowned producer Gordie Sampson (Jimmy Rankin, Natalie MacMaster), “Yours To Break” is firmly rooted in the same traditional music heritage as its predecessors, but adds the raw energy and trance-like beats that the trio so passionately display with their live performances.  “[This] is a bit of a departure from anything we’ve ever done on previous albums … experimenting with more percussion, bass and keys,” offers Tim Chaisson (violin/guitar/percussion/vocals).  “All soundscapes that we’ve been bringing to our live show recently, with acoustic instruments still at the forefront.”  And don’t be fooled into thinking that the trio were shacked up in their native land during the songwriting process, as Tim spent time writing in Latin America, with Koady Chaisson (banjo/tenor guitar/moog/vocals) doing the same in Australia, and Jake Charron (keyboards/guitar/vocals) writing in Europe.

Opening with “Wintergreen,” the first single released back in the summer, Koady’s signature banjo licks quickly lead into this beautiful up-tempo vocal track; offering much of the unbridled and passionate energy that The East Pointers have thrilled live audiences with across the globe.  “Wintergreen” is the perfect choice for the lead track, picking up perfectly where the previous album left off, mixing stellar instrumentation with a few vocal tracks that affords Tim the opportunity to lend his outstanding voice to select numbers.  And with vocals tracks such as “Halfway Tree,” “Elmira,”  and “Mystery Cove,” the similarities to their predecessors remain evident, while the evolution in their sound is as equally noticeable.  “Elmira,” in particular, errs heavily towards the modern, with some great backing harmonies from Michigan singer-songwriter Lindsay Lou, that is as far removed from traditional for this band, and very reminiscent of their past hit, “82 Fires.”

For those with a fond appreciation of their instrumental pieces, The East Pointers will easily satisfy your cravings with this album.  Traditional purists will find plenty of comfort in “Light Bright,” which would not sound out of place with cuts from their debut album, while fans of their contemporary-modern sounds should pay attention to “Power To Move” and “S.O.S,” both of which successfully blur the lines of that traditional-modern divide.  Indeed, for those looking for the pushing of their own boundaries, you shall not be disappointed.  “Before My Time” is a little obscure, and very different to anything they’ve previously recorded, mixing both instrumental and harmonic cries to a pulsating, trance-folk beat.  Offering a similar ambience to their live sound is “Country Cable,” which includes a brief sojourn into ‘Alan Parsons Project’ territory courtesy of Jake’s stunning progressive pop-rock keyboards.

For some bands, it takes several years (decades even) to both pursue and define their music before discovering their signature sound. Yet for The East Pointers, whose musical niche developed in a relatively short space of time, this third album demonstrates a rapid, naturally-fluid progression in their repertoire.  Traditional Canadian Celtic music remains their core focus, yet the trio refuse to accept complacency within their interpretation.  For The East Pointers, boundaries invite challenges, not obstacles; traditions are to be respected, but rules can be re-written. While it is all too easy to follow pre-determined paths in the traditional folk music genre, The East Pointers are happy to toss that rule-book aside, and instead take the reins and lead their own pack.  And as you’ll no doubt discover with “Yours To Break,” they are having a lot of fun in the process.  “We’d like people to put on this album and feel like they can let go, dancing they way they feel and swaying if they need a moment of reflection,” offers Tim.  “Hopefully you’ll feel the instrumental jams just as much as the lyrics we dug deep to write.  We really hope people love it!”

The British guy that crossed the ocean and crash landed in central Pennsylvania (to quote Greg Keelor, “And I wonder what am I doing here?”). As the youngest of four siblings, exposure to music from a very early age nurtured my passion and appreciation for many musical genres. Continuing to discover some amazingly diverse and talented musicians based in Canada, I gravitate to live music experiences and remain devoted to spreading the word about such a vibrant music scene.

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