The debut EP IKE from the Canadian band Walking With Crows is quite impressive and showcases a line-up of great new talent. The band consists of: Kenyon Smith on fretless bass, Steve Thompson on drums, Scott Cameron on guitars and mandolin and Johnny McConnell (who is actually from Belfast, Ireland) on guitars and sings lead vocals. Also, Rick Barkhouse, who plays a mean organ on “Blu” makes a special appearance.
Right off, I would have to say that every one of the songs on this EP was solid; these ears heard not one weak spot. What’s more, the band covers a lot of different genres. The opener, “Don’t You Cry” has a serious tone (think kind of ‘90s grunge) but with a country-rock flavor – I know, odd, but that’s my two cents. Lyrically, it seems to hint about someone who died maybe? “Gone” has a ska/reggae refrain before the chorus part and what can I say – my god; McConnell has one hell of a voice! His high notes, not to mention sustain, floored me, not only on this song but also pretty much throughout the entire recording.
The guitar intro on “Blu” has a very Hendrix-like bluesy sound and McConnell’s vocals here reminded me of Dennis DeYoung from Styx at the height of their popularity. It’s also a good slow dancing number, too. “Come Alive” musically, reminded me of Lanterna, a band from Illinois that are known for playing instrumental soundscapes. It features a solid fast beat with an inspiring feel and an extra bonus – a jig! “Those Were the Days” is a tender song about reminiscing and swapping stories of your youth with a sibling. As a guy who grew up an only child, this number tugged at my heartstrings.
“Risking It All” has familiar guitar chord sounds in the beginning and intriguing lyrics that I couldn’t quite figure out but kept my interest. And then there’s the ending – all I can say here is, Walking With Crows should seriously consider selling this number to the makers of the Guitar Hero game. I mean, good heavens – I haven’t heard a guitar solo or rather, a guitar player playing like this in years. It’s a shame that this style of guitar playing has taken a back seat in recent years. Anyway, it was a fabulous way to end the record and overall, a solid first effort from this up and coming band.
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