Night Sun


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This is the fifth album from the Kingston, Ontario-based band Night Sun, which was formed by bandleader and chief songwriter Ellen Hamilton when she was living and working in various Arctic communities in the Canadian Northwest. Drive finds the band moving in a somewhat bluesier and jazzier direction than in its previous work; this new tendency is particularly pronounced on the sexily swaying "All I Do Is Drive," on which Hamilton's Edith Piaf influence is especially noticeable, and on the sinuous klezmer instrumental "Vavoom." But there's a ridiculously fun Cajun number as well, titled "Jolie Pantalon" (which, loosely translated, means "nice pants"), and an absolutely gorgeous setting of a 19th-century poem by Susanna Moodie. Hamilton adapted the words to music and called the result "A Canadian Song," and it's simple and heartbreakingly lovely. The closest thing to a misstep on this very fine album is a poorly realized rendition of the old Woody Guthrie song "Going Down the Road Feeling Bad," on which Hamilton's tendency to sing behind the beat, so effective on the jazzier and bluesier material, completely undermines the song's sense of momentum and leaves it sounding lame and stilted. Highly recommended overall.

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