13 October 2018 (released)
There's a palpable mood that is shared by a great many artists of North America's Pacific Northwest. For even the city dwellers, there's always one foot planted in nature. With the overwhelming abundance of green, fresh air, gargantuan mountains and vast coastlines inexorably shaping the artists writing, be it consciously or sub-consciously. There's a respect for the majesty, a desire to protect and a humbleness that is imbued by those surroundings. This neck of the woods might not get battered by hurricanes or frozen by ungodly cold winters but the uninterrupted wet, grey winters that are needed to allow the flora to flourish, have a tangible effect on moods and forms of expression. While the sun's gone, you make your own light.
Singer-songwriter Deb Montgomery writes songs of “grief and joy” and “strength in weakness” that perfectly express this Pacific Northwest perspective. Her songs whether overtly or subtly, have the influence of this corner of the earth coursing through them. With her latest EP, Montgomery uses tactile imagery to personify various trials, tribulations, and triumphs in a way that we can all relate, through connection to the inevitable processes of the natural world.
'All the Water' the album's bold opener and the album's most potent offering has Montgomery with a calm yet insistent finger-picked guitar like the babbling of a high up mountain creek, just collecting its first drops of rain. “All the water needs a way to go” she asserts with back up from the hollow, loose toms of Jens Gunnoe. The two instruments team up like tributaries coalescing and gain speed in their descent to the valley below. The sea, the final destination appears far off in the distance though miles of damp trees and wayward sunbeams. Plans are made to sail the world and take on whatever lies ahead. Strings join the refrain to make the river's journey take on epic proportions. Without launching into over-the-top theatrics, Montgomery grows the song to a grand story from its humble beginnings. There's a thread of First Nations melodies that intertwine through the song, the kind you'd imagine scoring a canoe trip down a rugged Rocky Mountain river. With the final notes, we are thrust out into the ocean from the mouth of the river.
The remaining four tracks on All the Water follow a similar rock-infused folk style but do so at a more measured pace and intensity. Well crafted and heartfelt. The album is solid but doesn't again touch the heights of its lofty opener.