Ceremony - Thereafter
The rain forest of the Pacific Northwest is a magical place of mist-shrouded, looming lumber, vivid greens and muted earth tones beneath the canopy. And, apparently, occasionally, one may spot an apparition. The striking cover shot of ‘Ceremony’, the debut album by Vancouver acoustic quintet, Thereafter captures a gaudy, bright red and blue floral fabric, abandoned couch, tilting sadly against the grandeur of the rain forest. To me, it emphasizes the fact that in this temple of nature, it is we, humans who are the aliens, and our obligation is to bring harmony to it, not baggage. Fortunately, harmony is something we’re equipped to do, through music and Thereafter do harmony extremely well. The couple at the core, Neil Hammond (guitar and vocals) and Keona Hammond (flute and vocals), deliver a ‘two-headed’ synergy to the songs and instrumentals on Ceremony, most of which are self-penned. They’ve been at it a while now. The two were also at the heart of the mostly Celtic West coast favorite, Cleia. A welcome voice to folk music is the cello, which adds intimacy to the lower end in a chamber music kind of way. Juno-winner Shanto Acharia is the accomplished cellist of Thereafter. Award-winning violinist Annie Brown and much in-demand percussionist/cajon player Ben Brown makes five. Ceremony is instantly engaging and accessible; beautiful melodies framed in the most pleasing of arrangements. There is Celtic, but Thereafter embrace more far-flung influences, from the blues to Scandi roots. It swings, swaggers and swells. Neil Hammond sums up Ceremony, 'It opens with the passing of a storm (Coming Round), and ends with the coming of one (Columbia River Rain). I guess it's a ceremony in the eye of the hurricane, which from actual experience, I can tell you, can be quite a time". The album’s theme deals with breaking oneself of the comfortable patterns and paths we all fall into. Maybe finding a place in the out of place like that couch on the cover? The band tells me they came back to the spot for more pictures but the apparition had disappeared. Visit Thereafter online at www.thereafter.ca to see the couch time travel through some of the world’s great works of art.