Spun: Dustin Bentall and the Smokes

By Susan Anderson

My first reaction to this album was “meh.” It didn’t grab me.

But I kept listening to it and while I’m not about to proclaim You Are An Island as my next favourite album, it did grow on me and I soon found myself humming along with the songs.

You Are An Island is Vancouver-native Dustin Bentall’s fourth record since his 2007 debut Streets With No Lights. And yet only with the release of Orion last October did the band The Smøkes — consisting of Kendel Carson, Del Cowsill, Adam Dobres and Rich Knox — truly come together. Band members came and went on Bentall’s first two albums. I was excited to see Kendel Carson in this line up — she is part of Belle Starr, a new favourite band consisting of three female lead singers who play fiddle. I can hear Carson’s distinctive fiddle warming the songs of this album.

The break up song “Shine” is fast-paced and sings: “It’s nothing that you did, it’s something that you said.” It’s nothing like typical country heartbreak songs. The title track “You Are An Island” is a bit haunting, a bit annoying and a bit catchy. “Pretty Good Life” is cheery and a good end to the album.

Overall, the songs are short and biting. Bentall wrote all of them, with co-writing help from Ryan Dahle and Pat Steward on “Shalala.” The lyrics are clever and original, with some good hooks. While there wasn’t one song that I kept going back to, there also weren’t any songs that I always skipped. If you want something different and Canadian, check out this album.

I’m definitely going to keep listening to it and share it with my friends.

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