CD Review: Bog River, Hands in the Ground

Bog River’s debut disc Hands in the Ground is a fun little folk affair. Combining the talents of three distinct songwriters, the disc never stays stuck in one place but showcases each writer’s strengths and influences over the course of ten tracks. Bog River is Carly Dow, Ben Hadaller and Dave Barchyn, three talented, up-and-coming Winnipeg musicians. On Hands in the Ground, they display great chops on the bulk of the instruments and include a few choice guest spots from the F-Holes’ James McKee on trumpet and Alex Campbell on the keys.

The songwriting and performances evoke folk music’s rich history with an immediacy that brings to mind backwoods cabins and rickety kitchen jams. The group plays well together, and this shows in the off-the-floor recording style. Harmonies are rich, riffs are tight and the stories well told. Whether singing of miners, buskers or salvation, Bog River’s songs are well played and delivered. Stand out tracks, for this good ol’ boy, are Dow’s “Head Full of Sound,” “This Side of the Sea” and Hadaller’s “Mountains for Sale.”

While influences are clearly worn on the sleeve here, that may be the disc’s main fault, with “may” being the operative word. For the most part, Bog River brings a refreshing take to a timeless genre and one that is already well served within the Keystone Province. Considering that the group is young and already veterans of the scene, Bog River are sure to bring some great tunes to the table in years to come. Hands in the Ground proves to be a great introduction.

3 ½ out of 5 stars