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The Once The Once
Album: Time Enough
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 9
Website: http://www.theonce.ca/

Newfoundland's celebrated trio The Once (consisting of Geraldine Hollett, Phil Churchill and Andrew Dale) has been touring its warmly accessible brand of contemporary folk-pop for around a decade now, and Time Enough, their fourth album, was released last May - some way in advance of a small block of live concert appearances in the UK which start very shortly and continue on into early February.

If I'm brutally honest, I must remark that this album seems quite a bit different from its predecessors, in that on initial acquaintance one can't help but notice its for the most part decidedly un-folky character. That's not necessarily a criticism… but you could be forgiven for thinking that much of it was a lost Fleetwood Mac (Rumours-era) album, most especially opening track (and single) I Can't Live Without You. In general, the vibe indicates a considerable kinship with '70s AM-friendly harmony-driven soft-rock, especially that of the likes of CSN, Carly Simon, Jackson Browne and the aforementioned Mac (to name but four of the simplest and most obvious comparisons).

Sadly the disc's digipack doesn't include lyrics, even tho' there would've been room. But one can say that the trio's songs (all but one self-penned) observe the conventions of their role models, and instrumentation is built around the accomplished vocal harmonies and straightforward, appealing, gently textured backdrops. These embrace occasional touches of synth, sax and horns and brass (think mellow Chicago) alongside the basics, guitars, percussion and keyboards. In fact, the arrangements of songs like Before the Fall, Any Other Way and You Don't Love Me in particular border on the slightly over-lush, whereas the disc's closing number Some Lies (written by Tim Baker) is the closest in texture and approach to the more stripped-back rootsiness of The Once I know and love from earlier albums (and it ends beautifully in vocal harmony). And I'm still enraptured by Geraldine's voice and its special brand of expressiveness. But throughout the album the trio's sense of togetherness is suitably impressive, and I'm sure their live act will be every bit as polished and likeable and - importantly - audience-friendly.

David Kidman