Beija Flor is far from dead. Though the band itself may be no longer, former frontman Stephen van Kampen has kept the music alive with his new solo project Savk. Van Kampen is no fresh face to the Calgary music scene and his experience rings through in both lyrics and instrumentation.
Armed with a banjo and playful guitar licks van Kampen brings the best of Beija Flor to the table, and then some. Toe-tap inducing banjo licks on "Complex Inferiority" and "Red Eye" fit in well with van Kampen's signature scratchy, dynamic vocals. There are few among us that can pull of the high pitches that are reached by his tremulous voice.
The album as a whole swings between delightfully playful and seriously heartbreaking, all featuring van Kampen's quick fingered picking. There are fleeting moments that are reminiscent of Beija Flor's early, grittier days but for the most part this is a much softer van Kampen than we have seen before.
Most important of all, Savk has proved without a doubt that banjos are good for much more than kindling.