Fields of Rock & Snow

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A hauntingly beautiful record by a group that crosses paths with the strongest components of Ian & Sylvia and the Chieftains, doing for Canada what the latter group has done for Ireland and singing and harmonizing better than the former. Indeed, Fields of Rock and Snow could almost be considered the very distant successor to Ian & Sylvia's 1965 Northern Journey. And while there's nothing here to quite compare with the latter's "Someday Soon" or "You Were On My Mind," the 11 songs here (mostly by guitarist/singer James Gordon, spiced with one original by guitarist/singer Alex Sinclair) have a specialized power and poignancy, evoking a lot of the loneliness and some of the joys of living in Canada -- the distances especially, and what they do to people, good and bad. The music incorporates some elements of Western and cowboy song at time, while at other evokes echoes of Irish and English folk sources. The singing is superb, Gwen Swick lending melodious support as a backup singer when she's not handling the lead, and the performances have a compelling honesty that makes this record a keeper.

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