Toronto’s neo-Celtic trio The Log Drivers are another of those young bands who want to take the tradition and turn it on its ear. Jazz-influenced chord substitutions on the guitar provide interesting accompaniment to their compositions, and the melodies take a turn from the standard in ways that are influenced by popular music and jazz. Rhythms are given the occasional syncopated twist, as well.
They’re following the formula to the letter. The tunes are interesting enough and the players are competent, but I’ve heard a lot of this kind of thing. It’s hard to impress me with it now, and there’s nothing about this album that makes me sit up and take notice. I want to be compelled to whoop when one reel ends and another one begins on a dime, showing off the obvious virtuosity of the players. I’m not doing that here, despite the abilities of both Julie Fitzgerald on fiddle and Spencer Murray on flute and pipes.
And they do have obvious ability, don’t get me wrong. Words like “Grand Master Champion” and “All Ireland” are bandied about in connection with these players, and they all have jazz training from Toronto’s Humber College under their belts. But there’s just something lacking energy-wise on these tracks, even on up-tempo numbers like The Farewell to Sligo Set. Perhaps the live show, with the addition of Fitzgerald’s step-dancing, brings the energy that I’m not feeling here.
Jesse Dollments’ sweet voice is lovely on songs like Dixieland and A Miner’s Life, but – alas – she is only a guest artist here, as is Elliott Thomas on banjo. These additions add to the depth of the recorded tracks, but in turn they make me wonder how the songs translate to the stage without them.
The Log Drivers’ début album is a pleasant listen, but it does kind of sound like a début album. There’s a tendency to hate the word ‘potential,’ but I think this band has it. I look forward to see where they go from here.
The Log Drivers are available via iTunes.
The Log Drivers’ début album is a pleasant listen. There’s a tendency to hate the word ‘potential,’ but I think this band has it.