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The Fugitives The Fugitives
Album: The Promise Of Strangers
Label: Westpark
Tracks: 11
Website: http://www.fugitives.ca

One of the joys of reviewing new releases is coming across artists that have evaded your natural radar for a considerable time. In this case a total of four albums and a decade. And you wonder why. And how.

Then you don't, it doesn't matter, you can catch up.

What matters is the music, especially when, as in this case, it is so staggeringly beautiful. This is The Fugitives, a Canadian duo of Adrian Glynn and Brendan Mcleod, they have been nominated for Folk Awards, they have topped the folk charts in their own country, they have toured the UK and sold out, they have secured a Glastonbury slot.

This is "The Promise Of Strangers", a full album of dedications to others, some well known, some fictional and others you may have never heard of. It's a concept that could be forced, that could wear thin. It doesn't. Not in the slightest.

It opens with an eulogy to Leonard Cohen, written as the news broke off his death. Sad. With a joyous choral arrangement. A fitting tribute to The Man. "No Words", "I have no words, I think he took them all with him….I never knew a stranger who knew my heart better". Deep, dark, yet the beauty shines still.

Like a hare caught in the headlights, transfixed, motionless, you are theirs, the Fugitives music has a hold on you. The front cover of the album has it spot on.

Dedications follow, to a young cancer sufferer, keeping positive, focus on the goals you will achieve (See This Winter Out). Hard subjects made accessible by wordsmiths who know their art and their heart.

Fictional characters such as Sarah Manning (Till It Feels Like Home) which has me delving into the history of the science fiction TV series "Orphan Black" and clones. This is music that engages, that entices, that encourages you the listener to seek out the references, to open your vista of life, to understand and appreciate.

To consider humanity and it's actions, to wonder how someone, suffering from mental illness, can be held in pre trial solitary confinement in an acrylic glass jail cell for four and a half years with the florescent lights being on continuously. Google Adam Capay, or listen to "Lights Out", better still do both.

"My Mother Sang" is a dedication to those mothers for whom raising their children is everything. There is nothing more important, being there, trying, doing your best, every day and night. It's incredible, so simple, so truthful. An economy of words to describe a lifetime of love.

Each track on "The Promise Of Strangers" is kept fresh with ever changing instrumentation, a solid base of guitar, banjo, violin and piano, the addition of brass, sax solo's, strings, synthetic, bass, drums and vocal revelry add to the brightness and diversity. Impeccable harmonies a constant throughout.

Comparisons to The Mumford's will be made but are unfair.

The Fugitives are the real deal and "The Promise Of Strangers" is an early contender for my "album of the year".

Ian Cripps