Calgary folk-pop outfit Boreal Sons brave the elements

The Boreal Sons’ convoy (the Calgary quartet stuffed into a newly acquired van along with their equipment and personal belongings) was a mere 60 kilometres from re-entering Alberta via Lloydminster when traffic came to an all-too-abrupt halt. The wind screeched ice covered the road and cars backed up for a few hundred metres. A northern prairie snowstorm in all its glory had struck welcoming the boys home after a long stretch on the road.

“We navigated some back roads in the middle of the night” says Evan Acheson the band’s lead vocalist and pianist. “It was the most terrifying driving of my life. We ended up making it into Wainwright Alberta. We got a hotel and went from driving on slippery scary roads to lounging in a hot tub in a matter of minutes. We were checking out the water slide and ordered pizza and fell asleep watching TV. It was like a 14-year-old’s dream birthday party.”

The festivities were well-deserved given the successful shenanigans of the previous month. In early October the band dropped their excellent debut LP Threadbare following two top-notch EPs. They embarked on their cross-country tour a few days prior to the album’s release heading westward to Vancouver Victoria and Whistler before charging eastward towards the Atlantic; in total the Sons drove about 120 hours playing shows in most of the country’s major cities. Adding to the fun was a noticeable diversity in venue types ranging from bars to cafés to churches.

“We definitely did tailor our set lists for the rooms and for the audiences that we were performing for” says Acheson. “On one night we’d be in a really loud bar and we would need to play material that would catch people’s attention. We saved a lot of our louder stuff for that. One thing we’ve noticed about our music is that we have the blessing — I guess — of being fairly versatile in terms of what we can do. So we played some house concerts and had acoustic versions of our songs along with loud bar versions.”

Another factor that complemented the live sets was the use of a Fender Rhodes piano borrowed from a friend during a previous trip to Victoria. That particular voyage also included their van’s engine catching on fire necessitating the recent “Boreal Bus or Bust!” IndieGoGo campaign that crowdsourced just shy of $2500 to buy a new coach. Hauling the piano across the country has been a space-hogging commitment but one that appears justified.

“We wanted to showcase something different sonically in terms of a different texture that we can use to structure our song for a live setting” says Acheson noting that the Rhodes gave the songs a little more life than his keyboard.

The intricate organic sound of the Fender piano only augmented the gentle aura of the band’s sound deftly presented on Threadbare . Production work was handled by Jonathan Anderson the Langley-based soundman quickly ascending the ranks of Canadian indie folk/rock influencers thanks to his work on the likes of Aidan Knight’s Small Reveal Jordan Klassen’s Repentance and In Medias Res’ It Was Warm and Sunny When We First Set Out . Some 20 days were spent with Anderson split between Calgary and Langley.

The band’s first two self-produced EPs ( Bedtime Briar and Whom Thunder Hath Made Greater ) were of undeniably pristine quality exhibiting a surprisingly refined sound. But thanks to the band’s evolution and decision to record with Anderson Threadbare contains a compelling combination of graceful melodic compositions and lyrical ruminations on mortality nature and divinity resulting in an album reminiscent of a more piano-anchored Midlake or Fleet Foxes.

And now after many weeks of touring the group is returning to their home turf.

“For us to be able to play in Calgary with new songs with new instruments and with a lot of practice and experience from coming just off the road I think we’re feeling really confident and excited to bring back and share stories from our experiences and be back among our community of supporters” says Acheson.