Lonesome Ace Stringband, Try To Make It Fly Review
Struggle, Hope, and Harmony: A Deep Dive into Try To Make It Fly
Bringing a vibrant sound of contemporary folk, Americana, and bluegrass, Lonesome Ace Stringband presents their latest project, Try To Make It Fly. The Lonesome Ace Stringband is Chris Coole on banjo and vocals, John Showman on fiddle and vocals, and Max Heineman on bass and vocals. Their harmonious interplay and distinct musical personalities have long captivated their listeners. Try To Make It Fly features twelve original songs that seamlessly blend their deep-rooted respect for tradition with the boldness of innovation. Each track is filled with their enduring spirit and the evolution of their collective musical journey.
Over the years, the Lonesome Ace Stringband has carved out a distinctive niche within the realms of folk and bluegrass. While their foundation is firmly rooted in the traditions of these genres, their sound has continually evolved. Their journey from focusing on traditional tunes in their initial offerings to interweaving original compositions adds a multifaceted richness to their musical tapestry. The broad inspiration behind the album is a central theme about “struggle and not giving up.” To better understand the album’s nuances, we engaged in a dialogue with the band, diving into their inspirations, challenges, and aspirations.
Q: With each album, you’ve managed to stay true to your roots while also introducing new elements to your sound. How do you balance tradition with innovation, and what were some specific inspirations for ‘Try To Make It Fly’?
“Balancing tradition with innovation has never really been something we’ve consciously thought much about… On our third album, When The Sun Comes Up, we started introducing our own original songs… This naturally gave us a bit more freedom with how we approached the sound and the arrangement of the songs. It’s hard for me to cite specific influences for this album, but our playing of traditional fiddle tunes is very inspired by the later work of John Hartford.”
Their evolution is palpably evident in tracks such as “Sweeter Sound.” The song launches with Showman’s expressive double stops on the fiddle. As the song progresses, particularly by the second verse, there’s a noticeable expansion marked by vibrant vocal harmonies. Coole’s banjo, with its distinctive percussive nature, interlaces seamlessly with the rhythm set by the snare drum, while Malone’s bass anchors the track. Various elements, from evolving vocal harmonies to the song’s intricate structure, bring depth and character to each section. The unique blend of Americana and hints of ’60s rock is especially evident in the vocal harmonies, underpinned by traditional country roots. The undeniable chemistry between Coole, Malone, and Showman radiates, with their vocal harmonies brimming with vibrancy and their instruments building intriguing melodies.
Q: Can you discuss the story or inspiration behind a particularly personal or meaningful track on ‘Try To Make It Fly’? What makes it stand out for you?
“The song “Praying for Rain” comes to mind… In the fall of 2019, Max and his wife packed up everything they owned and relocated to Horsefly in British Columbia. That summer was one of record-breaking temperatures… With that backdrop, Praying For Rain came to Max in a matter of minutes.”
The song stands out not only because of its profoundly personal narrative but also due to its poignant reflection on more significant environmental concerns. The music encapsulates the sense of urgency in the lyrics, evident in its minor key tonalities and the gentle, looping bassline. Coole’s banjo rhythmically mirrors raindrops, creating a mantra-like plea for rain, while Showman’s fiddle is a haunting counterpoint, especially in the last verse with his use of natural harmonics, resonating with the song’s lyrics. The Lonesome Ace Stringband creates a powerful emotional ambiance. The vocal harmonies in the chorus further elevate the music, encapsulating the sense of collective longing and worry.
Q: If there was a central message or theme you wanted fans to take away from ‘Try To Make It Fly,’ what would it be?
“”Try to Make it Fly” is a line from one of the songs on the album called “Sweeter Sound.” The song is broadly about struggle and not giving up… The thing that keeps you going is hope – not hope for some measure of success, just the hope that comes from being a part of something larger than yourself, be it a community or the eternal nature of music itself.”
Q: Given the resurgence of interest in folk and bluegrass, especially among younger audiences, how do you see the Lonesome Ace Stringband’s role in this landscape? Are there contemporary artists or trends you feel particularly aligned with or inspired by?
“We are honoured to be part of the large picture of folk, roots, bluegrass, and old-time. We are inspired by anyone who manages to “make it fly” while doing what they love. Some of our friends who do that and come to mind are Jason and Pharis Romero, The Slocan Ramblers, Bella White, and Kaia Kater.”
Q: Making an album is always a journey with its share of challenges and triumphs. Were there any unexpected turns or particularly memorable moments during the recording process of ‘Try To Make It Fly’?
“We made this album twice… We then went back in the studio in October 2022 and recorded the core of the album live. We then layered on top of those live performances, but having the foundation of the tracks be live (and having played the songs for a year) made all the difference.”
The Lonesome Ace Stringband’s Try To Make It Fly reflects their commitment to tradition and innovation. Through memorable melodies, emotionally resonant lyrics, and an undying spirit of perseverance, the band crafts an album that will appeal to their existing fans and anyone who has ever faced struggle and clung to hope. As you delve into the album, remember the hope that drives the band forward, and let their music lift your spirit. In the words of the Lonesome Ace Stringband: “Just try to make it fly.”
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Try To Make It Fly
October 13, 2023
Lonesome Ace Stringband