Great Big Sea is one of my favorite bands, and it’s always a good time seeing them live. Their music is a mixture of pop rock, folk rock and traditional Newfoundland songs. They are currently in their 18th year as a band and definitely show no signs of slowing down. Their last album “Fortune’s Favour” is by far my favorite album to date but Safe Upon The Shore is just as good!
The band recorded this with Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin in New Orleans, as well as in St Johns, Newfoundland. They even recorded this straight onto Alan Doyle’s laptop, or wherever they could since they are always out on the road. Or in Alan’s case, starring as Allan A’Dayle in Robin Hood. It’s funny that he was one of the best things about that film, but that’s another review for another time.
Safe Upon the Shore starts things off with the song “Long Life (Where Did You Go)” sung by Sean McCann. I like it but actually think the second track “Nothing But A Song” would have a better choice to start the album off. The song is about what the band do on a daily basis, and testing their relationships of being in a band. That song also features the guys singing quite well; very harmonized! I think by recording the album down South in the US, the band put some of those southern elements into their songs. “Good People” has a bit of a country folk sound to it and “Dear Home Town” has some harmonica and horns in there. Both awesome tunes and can’t wait to hear them live. Or in this case for “Good People,” can’t wait to hear that one again live since I heard it in Tarrytown, NY.
“Hit The Ground and Run” is a hootenanny type of song co-written by Alan Doyle and Russell Crowe. I wonder if they wrote that song, sitting on the set of Robin Hood? The title track “Safe Upon The Shore” is something you’d normally hear from GBS. A bare bones singing song with no instruments. I can see them singing this during an encore, with no microphones like they have done in the past. Folk rock band Carbon Leaf like to do that from time to time too. The track “Follow Me Back” is something we haven’t really heard yet from the band. A sweet song that was recorded in one take with co-writer Jeen O’Brien and guitarist Jeremy Fisher. That’s one thing I like about Great Big Sea, they don’t have huge egos and love to have other people writing songs with them, along with singing & playing with them on the tracks as well.
The more I listen to Safe Upon The Shore, the more I like it. I’m not saying I didn’t like this on the first listen, but it just gets better and better with more listens. I love all the songs on here, and I especially love the addition of the horns on certain songs. The band will be touring across North America this Summer and Fall, so be sure to see them when they stop into your town. But first, I’d get this album before you see them live; you gotta sing along of course!
Bottom Line: Great Big Sea continue their streak of never releasing a bad album!
Notable Tracks: Nothing But A Song, Good People, Dear Home Town, Follow Me Back, Have A Cuppa Tea, Road to Ruin, Don’t Wanna Go Home