Night Sun,
(Borealis, 2005)

Night Sun describes their music as eclectic acoustic. Over the years, this group from Kingston, Ontario, has combined elements of folk, Celtic, zydeco and klezmer. On their fifth CD, Drive, they seem to be leaning more towards jazz and blues.

When I saw them perform live several years ago. I was instantly impressed with their ability to blend different styles of music and combine it with great musicianship. One of Night Sun's main strengths is the lead singer and songwriter, Ellen Hamilton, who writes a very pleasing variety of songs, and provides a range of vocals ranging from soft and beautiful to strong and powerful.

Drive opens with "Changed," a personal-sounding ballad. "All I Do is Drive" is a jazz/swing/blues type song that uses driving as a metaphor for a love's tribulations. "Looking for the Sun" is a bluesy-swing song that features some great clarinet playing by Chris Coleman and gives Ellen a chance to show off the range of her vocals. "Jolie Pantalon" is a fun New Orleans-style stomp, while "Vavoom" is a fun klezmer-style polka.

"A Canadian Song" is a beautiful ballad featuring lyrics by Canadian poet Susanna Moodie. Ellen also pays tribute to her in "My Name." "Safe and Well" is a beautiful Celtic lullaby, which features some nice classical guitar, mandolin and whistles. The band takes a look at Canadian history in "Petawawa River," which includes some great Spanish guitar and fiddle playing. The CD's only cover tune is a fun bluegrass piece, a New Orleans-style version of Woody Guthrie's "Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad." "Don't Count Riches" is a folk 'n' gospel-sounding anti-war song that includes more great clarinet and guitar playing. Drive closes with "Wonder," another driving metaphor song.

Night Sun does a great job of combining different styles of music into a nice mixture of original acoustic music. The fact that they are all excellent musicians makes their music always a welcome treat.

by Dave Townsend
10 December 2005

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