Have you listened to The Rural Alberta Advantage‘s previous two records? If so, you pretty much know what to expect on their latest release, Mended With Gold. Since 2009 they haven’t exactly set out on an experimental journey of sound. Not that they need to. Hometowns is a perfectly crafted record and Departing honored that commitment to excellence. They’ve certainly got the niche they’ve found all to themselves, but I think it would be nice if they stepped outside it sometime.
Mended With Gold isn’t a bad album by any means. Really my only trouble with it is the overly familiar design of the songs. Take any of these tunes and switch them with something from their other albums and I doubt it would make a noticeable difference. The only exception being that the drumming by Paul Banwatt is amped up even more here, which I’ve already seen a great deal of praise for in other reviews. It’s true, this record is certainly a showcase for Paul, but I don’t think that adds much to the music as a whole.
Even though there isn’t anything new here, the album isn’t boring. The harmonies between Nils and Amy still sound great. Their use of loud/soft/loud dynamics still make for an interesting listen overall, and the phrasing and line delivery by Nils is top notch.
If you’ve never heard the band before, I wouldn’t start here. Go back to the beginning and listen to their first record and then move forward. If you’re a fan, you’re gonna dig Mended With Gold regardless of what I say. They usually put on a great live show, so I’m looking forward to catching their set at Metro tomorrow night. Tickets are still available here.