The Rural Alberta Advantage “The Rise and The Fall”

Paper Bag Records 2023

Expanded set from Canadian indie rock band is all-consuming in its musical power.

The Rural Alberta Advantage Album Art‘The Rise & The Fall’ is the fifth studio album from folk-rock trio The Rural Alberta Advantage. The opening six tracks are not new but recycled from the band’s EP called ‘The Rise’ which was released in March 2022. On this album multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Amy Cole reconnects with the band while Paul Banwatt’s drumming is still something to behold. The new tracks came as something of a relief to Nils Edenloff who was having doubts about writing purposefully again. Previously, his songwriting inspiration had come from local sources that included the landscape, locations and the weather.

There’s a YouTube video showing the abandoned Candu High School that closed in 1982 and which was near the Canadian deuterium uranium reactor in Northern Saskatchewan. The opening track is  ‘Candu’. It would make a most suitable and atmospheric soundtrack to the eerie images shown in the video. A trio of Albertan peaks are the backdrop to the track ‘3 Sisters’. Endenloff’s lyrics can be obscure but at times they shine quite clearly: “Holy fuck it’s been a lifetime Since I last saw the light in you” he sings on the stripped-back ‘Lifetime’. ‘Late September Snow’ is a beautiful song. It alludes to the Alberta Clipper, a fast-moving low-pressure system that brings short-lived weather events to the area. Is Endenloff reflecting on a global scale? “Barren World are we running outta time”.

In 2022 the band began working with drone artist Leroy Schulz. The music certainly complements his surreal take on familiar landscapes. There are some beautiful videos and photographs to accompany the songs. Schulz’s work continues with his input on this album’s artwork.

The second set of tracks do seem like they’re from a different time. ‘Plague Dogs‘ is a song inspired by the Douglas Adams book of the same name, with the same obscure ending. ‘Conductors’ is a great song and the accompanying video is splendid. Another highlight is the thought-provoking ‘FSHG’ about the disastrous Athabasca Oil Operations. As mentioned previously, the lyrics can be obscure and abstract to say the least but they’re never boring. And the musical power is all-consuming. Alberta is called ‘The Energy Province’. A substantial amount of that energy is definitely generated by this super-charged three-piece band. Watching them play live must be a worthwhile experience.

‘The Rise and the Fall’ merits a good listen and then another.

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