REVIEW FROM MONTREAL MUSIC SCENE (link to review)
A padded envelope shows up a while back to the brand new MMS office; it could only be one thing — a new album! Hurriedly, I ripped it open only to find a rather different album cover.
The cover (designed by Mike Rigby) features a horse-headed clergyman overseeing fellow forest animals, dressed from head to toe in black funeral garb, carrying a wooden coffin to a mountainside grave beneath an ominous sky. The album? Ol’ Savannah’s “Death On The Mountain”.
The album contains just the right blend of folk and Americana influences with the recognizable banjo, harmonica, and accordion complimenting the usual guitar, bass, and drums. The vocals are also just as important, as they tell a mature, gritty story and give credibility to the rest of Ol’ Savannah’s sound. In fact, the album begins with a track titled “Bury Me On The Mountain” which essentially sets the groundwork for what’s to come. The lyrics channel a dark, twisted story: “I wandered through the mountains till I find my way; joined you in the sleep of our eternal grave”. The band appropriately bookends said lyrics with vocal cries of pain and chains, giving the track some life despite it’s grim subject.
The album however does provide some more kick with tracks such as “Swamp Stomp” and “Down By The River” which could almost serve as the soundtrack to a drunken night amongst old acquaintances. They are in fact rather memorable tracks which will no doubt have you stomping and singing along.
Although the album is deeply influenced by Americana, it is definitely not your typical commercialized “folk”-influenced bands! Ol’ Savannah still succeeds in standing out and they’re able to do so by staying true to the genres they use. Quite simply put, they succeed in channeling the past with a gritty yet polished sound that’s bound to keep you listening again and again.
“Death On The Mountain” is Ol’ Savannah’s 3rd album and features Speedy Johnson (guitar, vocals, harmonica), Bartleby J. Budde (banjo, vox), Kevin Labchuk (accordion, backup vox), Tim van de Ven (percussion), and Ram Krishnan (bass).