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Jon and Roy Jon and Roy
Album: The Road Ahead Is Golden
Label: Blue Heron
Tracks: 11

The Road Ahead Is Golden is the seventh album from the trio of Jon Middleton, Roy Vizer and Louis Sadava. They've had some notable successes over the years, with a Western Canadian Music Award for Roots Recording Of The Year in 2012, songs appearing on several TV shows, and they provided the soundtrack for adverts for Volkswagon and Scotiabank, both of which won them many more fans. This album was a little different in execution to previous records, with the band choosing to rehearse and record with relative swiftness, instead of potentially over-thinking it all.

At first listen this is more of the same, easy-listening but memorable music a lot of which would be suitable for adverts and the kinds of TV shows that feature young and beautiful North Americans. The opening track, Runner, is a perfect example, briskly paced, with a melody that sticks in the brain. Tracks like How The Story Goes and When You're Gone are softer tracks, but these too have strong melodies and good hooks.

Listen again however, and there's a lot more going on than first meets the ear. A lot of the songs are low key beauties; delicate, melodic but lacking easy chorus hooks. Silent Lou has an apt title, a purely instrument track that ambles on but doesn't outstay its welcome. Clever One mixes up gentle finger picking with subtle drum work, and a vocal style that barely goes over a whisper. Window has a great bassline that elevates the song wonderfully well, and the title track features a Wurlitzer that acts almost as a substitute for a chorus line.

The stand out comes at the end though with Every Night, when the drums get unleashed a little. It makes for a faster pace which is matched perfectly by the somewhat rasping vocals of Jon Middleton.

Overall while this may eschew the easy path of crowd pleasing hooks and choruses, this is an album of great beauty which gets better with every listen, and reveals a little more of itself every time. This may be a delightfully simplistic album, but there's also an ambiguous side to the music, hinting at something a little darker. It's clear that while this sounds effortless, nothing could be further from the truth.

Adam Jenkins