Who'd ever thought that Canada could produce such serene indie folk music? After releasing two very good albums (Great Lake Swimmers and Bodies And Minds), Great Lake Swimmers has followed with another very good album in Ongiara.
The band is made of up of singer songwriter Tony Dekker, Erik Arnesen (guitar), and Colin Huebert (drums). The band, despite being a trio, creates surprisingly complete and filling music without the echo of having too few instruments and without the clutter of having too many instruments.
Dekker's voice resonates well in the opening track "Your Rocky Spine" as his vocals match the lyrics of Canada's lively natural landscapes ("And the mountains said I could find you here / They whispered the snow and the leaves in my ear"). A few other songs deal with nature and its wonders like the relationship between nature and people ("Where In The World Are You" and "Put There By The Land") as well as the circle of life ("Changing Colours"). In "Colours" Dekker sings with a sincere passion for his appreciation for his life lived so far and his sadness of lives lost ("I see you hesitate to fall now / But it's a pretty good view from down here, too").
Great Lake Swimmers plays with a great intensity in spite of the band's minimalist musical style. This style works well with their awareness songs like the almost-a cappella track "There Is A Light" that protests war and "I Am Part Of A Large Family" that reminds us that we all share this planet and that every person is connected.
The final two ballads "Passenger Song" and "I Became Awake" conclude the serene album. With lyrics of "One thing I'll say for the less-traveled way / It doesn't have subtlety, but has twice the gravity," "Passenger Song" is very fitting on Ongiara. The album's title comes from the name of the Toronto Harbour boat that carried the band when it was first starting out to recording sessions on Toronto Island. Contrasting the lyrics, the song is a subtle way for GLS to follow nature's path and come full circle.