REVIEW: The Rural Alberta Advantage – “Departing”

The Rural Alberta Advantage / Departing / Paper Bag

Departing may not be a completely accurate title for the name of The Rural Alberta Advantage’s second album. Using their debut Hometowns as a launching point, you might suspect the songs on Departing to be about saying goodbye to the homestead and setting off as a fully formed adult; you might also expect a new direction in the style of composition from the last album (a “departure”, if you will). You’d be wrong. On Departing, the group hasn’t re-invented its sound, but this isn’t a fault – after all, this is still a rock album from a group with a rural (pardon the redundancy) sensibility. And, rather than focusing on big city lights, songs on the album dip into that volatile mix of feelings young adults of a certain age begin to have about the places where they grew up.

The songs “North Star” and “Barnes’ Yard” describe experiences in liminal “between” space; on highways coming to and leaving home; set at dusk, or else on the frosty cusp of dawn after a very long night. Being pushed away while simultaneously being pulled back. It’s not surprising that complicated moments in relationships so often fit in as parallels, with an emotionally unavailable partner sometimes filling the role of the increasingly less-familiar hometown. For anyone who has so far missed out on hearing anything from The RAA, a close sonic comparison to this album is Years (By 10,000 Fingertips), the latest album from Attack in Black. On both discs, earnest ballads that are self-referentially Canadian are interspersed with poetic driving rock tunes that use distortion as the exception rather than the rule. Still, the album name could use some work. How about: Staying Put Is Killing Me?

Download: “North Star”, “Stamp”

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