Relocation can be something traumatic. Re-centering in a new locale is inherently influential to the human soul in ways that are often unexpected. When Matt and Kristie MacDonald decided to leave Seattle for Nova Scotia, there was no doubt that such a journey would produce more than a few road trip tunes, but Grand Pre ends up being Vocal Few's most emotionally hefty effort to date.
Acoustic singer/songwriter duos can only do so much with their chosen sonic palette - because of that, much of the weight lies in their achievement of empathy. Anyone who has ever moved or experienced a season of uncertainty will undoubtedly find much to reflect on with Grand Pre. Themes of homesickness, routine lifestyles, and collective loneliness make for a particularly cohesive collection of songs. Be forewarned - the care and melancholic optimism with which these topics are explored make for 26 minutes of therapy, causing the listener to have to grapple with these thoughts regardless of their current emotional state.
The MacDonalds do a solid job of keeping the songs engaging. Though there isn't much of a break from the bright acoustic guitars and muted pianos, the moods are varied enough to not get tiring. The clear narrative journey helps with this workaround as well. As this is their 4th outing as a duo, each aspect of their sound feels more balanced than ever before. That comfortability also hinders Grand Pre ever so slightly. Musical risks would have been appreciated, especially if they replaced some of the moments that dipped a bit too much into the "sappy stream" (listen to closer "Stay" and you'll know what I mean).
As much as road trip EPs are a dime a dozen, there are few that deal with the potential trauma that can accompany such journeys. Grand Pre works best as a snapshot of the transitions we face in life, but it's also one of the more pleasant and genuinely uplifting releases of the year.- Review date: 8/13/18, written by Mason Haynie of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: BC Music
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