‘Just Rivers’ – debut album from Beams - rich harmonies and engaging melodies(June 28, 2013)
‘Just Rivers’ is the debut album from Toronto-based band Beams – and aside from the rich harmonies and engaging melodies on offer you cannot help but notice the distinctive lead vocals. They call themselves an ‘art-country indie folk rock band’ – well that’s pretty much got it covered. However, that description misses out the innovative, original fusion of styles, instruments and influences that make this album addictively listenable.
Integral to the attraction within ‘Just Rivers’ are the constant twists and turns as each successive track takes a different turn to encourage you to join the band on its way to somewhere new. Predictable they are not. It’s easy to see where their self-described approach of ‘country indie folk rock’ comes from; I mean who could really classify this music? And indeed why should you? It’s easier to surrender to the enticing synthesis they offer and simply enjoy.
From the folk rock beginnings of ‘Be My Brother’ with soaring vocals and evocative singing saw, through the banjo-driven groove of ‘Sun Wraps ’Round’ complete with snappy percussion to the rock and reel of ‘How Wonderful’ this is a mix that quite simply works. ‘White Belly’ takes you deeper into the intricacy of their carefully constructed harmonies, while ‘I’m Not Human’ starts in a relaxed meander before launching its intense mélange of saw and guitars, then ‘Glory Box’ takes a similar turn with cutting guitar and percussion breaks. ‘Just Rivers’ is capricious, exciting and invigorating.
On ‘Just Rivers’ Beams is Anna Mernieks (vocals, banjo, electric and acoustic guitar) Keith Hamilton (singing saw, backing vocals) Martin Crawford (lap steel, electric and acoustic guitars) Mike Duffield (drums, percussion) Heather Mazhar (vocals) Dave Hamilton (mandolin) and Craig Moffatt (bass) with special guests Jon Ernewein (upright bass) and Laura Bates (violin).
Reviewer: Tom Franks