[Album Review] Whitehorse- Leave No Bridge Unburned
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Release Date: February 17, 2015
Label: Six Shooter Records

In Canada we seem to be blessed with quite a number of dynamic husband/wife acts, and that most definitely includes Whitehorse. Some classify their third album, ‘Leave No Bridge Unburned’, as alt country or country-rock. This is wrong. First of all, this is a northern urban band, with all of the sensibilities and influences that identification comes with. Second, although they explore southern musical territories, Nashville isn’t quite where they’re at (with maybe a couple of exceptions, which are noted below).

For example, the album opens up with a clattering beat and a vaguely Latin rhythm (“Baby What’s Wrong”) before Melissa McClelland and Luke Doucet launch into some southern gothic blues. Elsewhere they get into such varied terrain as stompin’ bluegrass (“You Get Older”), dark folk (“Evangelina”) and David Lynchian dream pop (“Dear Irony”). Thing is, although it’s western-influenced and roots-informed, their music is a mythical place conjured up in the minds of city folk. It’s a place where the ghost of Roy Orbison lingers forever.

Even when they do venture close to country music they throw us some major curve balls. Although “Oh Dolores” has a countrified air, for all the world it sounds like T-Rex doing a Nashville homage. And then there’s the rockabilly “The Walls Have Drunken Ears” (reminiscent of Ryan Adams’ “To Be Young”), which mid-way slides into a Pink Floyd/Beatles interlude. Yeah, I know, you don’t hear that everyday.

Above all, McClelland and Doucet are seductive – they lure us into danger. Their echoing beats and reverberating guitars are like tribal drums in the night. When you add the often-sultry vocals and the impeccable production the package is irresistible. They entice us to forget our fears and join them in a dizzying dance in the dark and we willingly follow.