Release Date: February 15, 2011
Sonic Records; 11 Tracks; CD, LP Vinyl
Review by: Lee Fraser
This highly anticipated third album from Hey Rosetta! will prompt even more reverence for the Newfoundland band.
The opening title track of Hey Rosetta!’s third and latest album, Seeds, provides a glimpse into the energy and adventure that awaits. Tim Baker's charismatic voice and acoustic guitar strumming insinuate that you‘re barrelling along the highway. By the end of the first verse, you may find you're already hooked on the bass line. Jumping on board for the chorus, electric guitar and strings solidify the sense that you're in for a good time. After a short stop on the side of the road, it’s back into the fast lane, driven by a syncopated B section of drums and vocals. In the final chorus, strings are joined by trumpet — and that's the point at which you know the rest of the album is going be a good ride.
Seeds was produced by renowned Scottish producer Tony Doogan and recorded primarily at the The Sonic Temple in Halifax. Combined with both a gifted producer and an inviting studio that is situated in a heritage building, Hey Rosetta! have brought to fruition their vision for the new album.
Led by the creative genius of Baker, with some co-writing by guitarist Adam Hogan, the band developed the music on Seeds while touring their previous album, Into Your Lungs. While Into Your Lungs garnered them a Polaris prize nomination, multiple ECMAs and much critical acclaim, Baker sought to further refine his lyric-writing and vocal talents. We are treated to stories about life on the road, newborn babies, regret, loneliness and optimism, all delivered powerfully and with a lot of heart.
Fans of Hey Rosetta! will be thrilled to hear more of the symphonic rock that first attracted them to the band. On Seeds, the band sticks with the instruments and song structures that gained them healthy followings, both on social network sites and at live performances. Josh Ward continues to produce some of the most interesting bass lines in Canadian rock. Catchy drum riffs by Phil Maloney are abundant and there is a sprinkling of Baker's emotive piano on a few tracks. Cellist Romesh Thavanathan and violinist Kinley Dowling are seamlessly incorporated, at times prominently and other times as subtle accompaniment. The band also recruited fellow Newfoundlanders Kathy Conway, Terry Campbell, Brigitte Labelle, as well as Juno-award winners Eric Landry and David Christensen, to add wonderful brass and wind instrument accents on many tracks. One curiosity on this album is a sampling of Inuit throat singing, complete with the tradition of continuing until the singers break out in giggles.
The arrangements are complex, yet extremely catchy. Hey Rosetta! tells beautiful stories through songs such as, "Yer Spring", "Young Glass", "Seventeen" and "Yer Fall". The imagery in the lyrics along with the melodies catch your interest, surprise you with a variation to keep you entranced, build to a soaring climax and then return you softly to the chorus.
If you're not already a fan of Hey Rosetta!, you definitely need to treat yourself to this album. Every time you listen to any of these songs, you will hear something you hadn’t noticed before, appreciate a subtle nuance, or find yourself anticipating the part where the strings are plucked or the horns make an exclamation point. This album is exquisitely produced.
Seeds is available as of today, February 15th. Starting with an appearance at the Canada Games in Halifax, Hey Rosetta! will be touring Canada, the U.S. and Australia. Hopefully you already have your tickets, though — at the time of writing, many of the shows were already sold out.