Safe Upon The Shore - Great Big Sea
Safe upon the shore, no doubt with a collective sigh of relief from Alan Doyle, Bob Hallett and Séan McCann, what with burgeoning movie careers, growing families, world tours and corporate gigs in Grand Cayman, it’s amazing they had any time left over to squeeze out their 10th studio album. But, Great Big Sea have been signed to Warner for some time now and obviously take their commitments and contracts seriously. Still, Safe Upon The Shore is by their own admission roughly hewn. The tracks were conceived and written on a collaborative retreat with emerging songwriters like Jeen O’Brien, Jeremy Fisher and Joel Plaskett, to once again challenge the band to step outside their comfort zone. Other tunes were lifted from greats like Ray Davies, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. Still others were either worked out quickly over brews with none other than Robin Hood himself (Russell Crowe) or hanging with Randy Bachman. The recording process was equally haphazard, making best use of time and space, tracking in the back of tour buses, hotel rooms, and various environments from St. John’s to New Orleans, where they actually had opportunity to live for a while, record in a full-blown studio and coax some awesome performances from the likes of Sonny Landreth. All the flotsam and jetsam was uniformly pieced and hung together by another who knows well the trick of hardwiring pop and traditional, Steve Berlin from Los Lobos. The band rationalizes the result as catering to the way we consume music these days. In a singles market, the album becomes a collection of songs rather than a conceptual entity unto itself. I have my reservations about that. Great Big Sea looks at their work on Safe Upon The Shore as snapshots of their whirlwind lives of late. Six months from now, they profess, it could have been a collection of 14 different songs. Fortunately, as their legion of fans know well, GBS takes great snaps.