2016 and another Canadian folk and roots artist is introduced to a UK audience, but when the quality is as high as Carly Dow few who engage with her music will grumble. INGRAINED is a smart album delivering ten self-penned songs wrapped in a country sentiment. Recorded in Winnipeg, it is the debut release from Carly and shows the depth of talent we are continually being presented from a land so rich in song writing pedigree. The album possesses a luscious sound and instantly draws you in. If you are moved by lyrical analysis this record presents plenty of opportunities to ponder song meanings and could even be described as a dreamer’s paradise. The biggest compliment to pay is that Carly will own your ears each time you spin this disc or whatever mode of play is your choice.
All ten tracks possess an impressive degree of clarity surrounding their production and reception thus making this an album to find its groove immediately. It is hugely assisted by a great introductory piece in the unaccompanied ‘Olive Branch’, wealthy in gospel appeal with an infectious clapping beat supporting a well-structured song. After this inspiring start the album is strongly positioned to glimpse into several strands of Carly’s creative artistry. The album’s premium moment quickly arrives at track #3 and ‘Too Much to Go Back’ has the stamina to hang around playlists for quite a while. It is certainly helped by the stellar line ‘highway cuts like a vein pushing blood’ as Carly digs deep for some literary inspiration. The lovely vibes and top notch lap steel interlude help form this track which, far from being alone at the album peak, invites plenty of other songs to join it. Making a valiant attempt to match this highpoint is the magical banjo-led beauty ‘Not a Songbird’. You can’t go wrong with a load of banjo and ‘Soil to Dust’ supplies plenty on a tune where her band’s presence kicks in.
As if to show there is a widespread diversity in her repertoire, extra instrumentation kick into a metaphorical piece titled ‘This Dress’ which hails re-united love in a straightforward style. More steel and a touch of haunting twang provide a backdrop to ‘Down This Road’, while a low ‘n’ slow approach to ‘Casanova’ enhances the degree of the song’s message. The final three tracks each in their own way give the album further credence. The addition of cello to ‘Yours and Mine’ creates a sombre feeling to a song which possibly struggles to make an impression alongside the meatier tracks. The harmony vocals is probably the redeeming feature to ‘Watch it Go’ which just leaves the intimate laid back lullaby ‘All Sleep Tonight’ to bring a highly worthy album to a close.
INGRAINED has that dual edged feeling of providing a few head scratching moments for those infatuated with lyrical interpretation and an innate ability to plainly entertain the other type of listener content with sitting back to let the sounds do their soothing job. One thing for sure is that Carly Dow has made an excellent record to announce her arrival on the international scene which we have been indicated is likely to be followed up with a UK visit later this year. A name and an album to look out for.