Right in the middle of an abnormally long Alberta winter, the Rural Alberta Advantage return with a wintery album. From the driving-in-a-whiteout front cover to the numerous icy references throughout the LP, Departing plays like a counterpart to the late summer sunset that was their first album, Hometowns.
On Departing, the band stays close to the formula that made Hometowns such a quiet, slow-building success. The album is full of songs about love, loss and reconciliation, set against the backdrop of lead singer Nils Edenloff’s sharp vocals and ramshackle acoustic guitar. Once again, Paul Banwatt’s skillful drumming stands out — particularly on “Stamp,” where his frantic fills and rolls ambitiously take centre stage in the mix. While Banwatt’s precise energetic rhythms do not carry as much as they did on Hometowns, his presence is still key for the band.
The Rural Alberta Advantage effectively and deftly capture the sound of small town Alberta. Edenloff’s guitar often plays like a late night barn yard stomp, while Amy Cole’s expanding keys invoke the image of the never-ending sky over the prairies. While Departing may not quite live up to their strong debut, it nonetheless is a very solid piece of work that will stick with you.