Making a record centered on harmony doesn’t mean shortchanging listeners when it comes to the substance of lyrics or even the girth of a groove; it means putting the collective above the singular in every presented situation.
The Act Americana Trio set a fine example for their peers in this department with the release of their sterling new record The True North EP, and while it’s tailor-made for the discriminating folk fan, it’s definitely not inaccessible to the casual passerby who might be intrigued by melodies that are simply too organic for the contemporary FM dial.
Every one of the songs on The True North EP feels like a potential single, with “Rescue Fantasy” sticking out to me as the most identity-affirming piece in the tracklist. There’s a lot of ground being covered here for this being little more than a crossover acoustic effort, and since they’re in the studio rather than on stage, I’m sure this is just a sample of what we might expect out of a proper performance from this group. “True North” and “Nothin’ You Can Do About That” sting hard, but it’s easy to imagine them being even tougher in real life.
The chemistry that these players have is absolutely incredible, and I love the way their individual emotions are connective within the harmonies of “Whole Lotta Livin” and the aforementioned “Rescue Fantasy.” They would probably have just as big a footprint in front of a purely electric setup, but with the raw, unfiltered backdrop they’re being afforded in this record, I believe we’re able to get an even better idea about what their true depth as a group is. It’s nothing to scoff at, and anyone who would say otherwise didn’t expect a work like The True North EP at all.
The Act Americana Trio’s sound was indeed made for the stage more than it was for the cramped space that is the studio, but what they’re presenting the world with in The True North EP will do until I get to see them for myself in the future. This is a clean, black-and-white release that doesn’t ask for us to sit through a lot of theatrics in anticipation of something real and unabashedly human. From top to bottom, this is an extended play with a lot of soul, and it’s spilling out of every melodic charm featured in the master mix.