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Union Duke Union Duke
Album: Golden Days
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 13
Website: http://www.unionduke.com

A Toronto quintet who mix up bluegrass with rock n roll and country, this is their third album, one largely about the ebb and flow of relationships (though 'A Brief Romance' sneaks in a political comment or two), and could go some way to spreading the name beyond Canadian shores. 'Heavy Wind' kicks it off in frisky, driving bluegrass style complete with a fierce descending scales banjo breakdown before shifting to a deliberate slow stomp for 'Baby Don't Break' with a bluesy electric guitar jam solo and an almost yodel pitch to the vocals.

Bass, scratchy guitar and fiddle underpin the lazier of 'Got You On My Mind', the softer, slower side of things also evident on things like the warm ripples of 'Bird On The Wing', the 70s folksy pop echoes of 'Right For Me' with its vague S&G hints, the soulfully sung, banjo jangling 'Golden Days (I've Been Down)', which observes how "With no rock bottom there ain't no mountaintop", and the wistfully lovely put a ring round it love song 'My Only Fighter' ('And she knocks me out with a single swing").

If you prefer things at a punchier pace, the playful bounce of 'Torn In Two' nods to old time influences for a song about a new lover who doesn't like country music, while 'Coffee/Whiskey' romps along in jaunty, foot-stomping fashion and the album closes in harmonica-laced goodtime summer festival crowd swayalong fashion with 'Chasing Headlights' that boasts one of the year's most oddball lines in "If she leaves me then I'll wager I'll use her toothbrush to clean my carburetor." A gilty pleasure.

Mike Davies