arts-iconBy contributor Jennifer Garceau. Read the Nav’s interview with Duncan Symonds.

A full disclaimer is in order here: when I first checked this album out and saw that one of the songs was titled after one of my favourite shows growing up, “Under the Umbrella Tree,” I was pretty determined to love this offering of Americana-all-grown-up. Incidentally, even if this song was named something else I would still be sitting at my computer telling you about this wonderful, ambrosial collection of instrumental songs.

ARTS13_AlbumReview-1There is a subdued confidence that is immediately apparent on the first track, “Walkin’ Thoughts,” and carries the listener through to the end track, “Clockwork.” Each offering is a sure-fire to have perfectly placed, timed notes which still manage to feel spontaneous. As a listener you get to feel like you’re on a road with no particular destination and the expanse of time at your disposal, with a soundtrack of bygone days rejuvenated into a contemporary blend of mastery and taste.

Taste is truly what stands out on this album. As much as it may seem like a myriad of complex notes are being performed, it is the notes that the band chooses not to play that makes me listen again. At any point, the mandolin or intricate acoustic guitar could navigate the listener to the exact sonic location they anticipate to land, but instead the runs of notes hit somewhere unexpected, resonating in your ear and leaving you at full attention and wanting more.

Nowhere is this phenomenon more evident than on the title track, “Bloom.” The complex layers are like the petals of a flower unfolding, beguiling you to the end when the song comfortably descends into a satisfying conclusion. The alluring dobro and bright, upbeat mandolin drive the song along and unite each component into a singular expression.

Another standout song on the album is “Daria.” The lush, finger-pickin’ good acoustic guitar anchors the intricate mandolin harmonies while the exotic dobro slides in and out of your ears. The jubilant, adventurous spirit of “Moving Day” is liable to make you put your sunglasses on and walk out your door without a plan. And as for the song that sold me before a single note passed through my ears, “Under the Umbrella Tree,” it delighted me to know a namesake song for a treasured childhood memory is charming and does the title absolute justice. The synchronicity of all the band members is particularly evident in this piece, especially between the bass notes rolling alongside the glittering mandolin, all set against what I am beginning to recognize as the trademark Duncan Symonds toe tappin’ acoustic rhythm.

Bloom has a song for each moment, whether it be the contemplative “Such, as Life” or the otherworldly “Sui Lim Tao.” This album has a moment ready for whatever mood you may find yourself in. And even though each song has a distinct flavour of its own, the album as a whole is a united expression. Treat your ears to a savvy arrangement of perfectly plucked notes and all kinds of heart and check out Bloom.

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