Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara

Music Reviews Great Lake Swimmers
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Great Lake Swimmers - Ongiara

Swimmers’ third album has its roots deep in Canadian soil

Named for the boat that carried them across Toronto Harbour to their studio, the Great Lake Swimmers’ third—and best—album, Ongiara, is anchored musically and lyrically to the land around the band’s hometown. Tony Dekker, Erik Arnesen and Colin Huebert create folksy compositions that will likely prompt the label “Americana,” but it seems more accurate to call this starkly evocative and melodically melancholic album “Canadiana.” “Your Rocky Spine” describes the northern reaches as an eroticized landscape, while “Changing Colours” connects singer and wilderness spiritually: “When you change colours, I change mine, too,” Dekker sings, his empathy spiked with desperation. Especially on the percussively orchestrated “Put There by the Land” and “Where in the World Are You” (featuring string arrangements courtesy of final Fantasy’s Owen Pallett), the Swimmers’ swirl of acoustic guitar, banjo and brushed snare complements Dekker’s musings and reinforces the album’s simple, yet stirring, evocation of place.

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