The Rural Alberta Advantage

Many people think of folk music as precious and pretentious in equal measure — the equivalent of arming whiny occupants of reality-show confessional booths with an acoustic guitar. But Canada's Rural Alberta Advantage, performing with Great Room Victorian and Sandusky, proves that the genre doesn't have to be a drag. On Homegrown, the act's full-length debut for Omaha's Saddle Creek imprint, frontman Nils Edenloffs delivers lines about your grandfather in the ground (from "The Dethbridge at Lethbridge") in a voice more prone to whoops and yelps than whimpers and mewling, and the inspired stickwork of Paul Banwatt, the band's not-so-secret weapon, more than keeps pace with his enthusiasm. The drums are frequently pushed to the forefront of the mix, providing the inspired thwacks that goose songs such as the raucous "Rush Apart" and "The Deadroads," with its hooky whoo-whoo-whoo background singing. The combination keeps solipsism at bay even as it helps restore folk music's good name.

 
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