The Gumboots,
Search For a Passage
(self-produced, 2000)

Listening to The Gumboots CD Search For a Passage is a doubly good experience: hearing some good traditional-sounding folk music and getting a history lesson at the same time. The five men who make up the Gumboots, based in Yellowknife in Canada's Northwest Territory, perform original songs documenting northern Canadian history. On this, their third CD, they include a nice variety of songs whose stories range from tragic to humorous.

The Gumboots' strengths lie in their storytelling abilities as well as their strong vocal harmonies. They play a range of traditional instruments including guitar, banjo, mandolin, recorder and fiddles, plus the less familiar Moose Ribs.

The opening track, "The Passage Chantey," is an a capella song which tells us what life was like for sailors on early ships. The CD's title track honors the people who searched for the Northwest Passage and reminds us that significant accomplishments are not done without taking risks. Two songs, "A Cold Winter's Night" and "The Rocks the Wind and the Water," give the listener a feeling of what life is like in the Canadian northwest, and encourages the listener to appreciate the simpler things in life. These two tracks also feature some of the CD's nicest melodies. "Soaked and Nearly Scrubbed" takes a somewhat humorous look at the great Hay River flood.

If you enjoy traditional sounding folk music and storytelling combined with good musicianship and good production, seek this out. These all make Search For a Passage a very enjoyable CD.

[ by Dave Townsend ]

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