Kelowna-based Great White North has just released their debut full-length album, Wild As A Child.
The alternative folk rock project marks the solo debut of singer-songwriter Michael Szalay following the breakup of his previous group, Tusk Mountain, and features a rotating lineup of band members.
If it wasn’t clear already that Szalay is inspired by the dramatic beauty of his home and native land from the name of the band (that, or he’s just a big Bob and Doug McKenzie fan), one just might get the idea by listening to Wild As A Child. Full of whistling harmonica, jangly banjo, and twangy guitar, the 11-track offering is a tasty little slice of Canadiana and an impressive venture into the sometimes-harsh climate of solo artistry.
Thoughtful lyrics touch on love, pain, work, and the land, weaving themselves through well-crafted arrangements, from the sweet build-up of opening track “The Factory” to knee-slapper “Some Different Thing” to the gentle strums of contemplative closer “To Alberta.” Szalay’s voice has grit to it, rolling along with the hard-hitting “Bible Belt Blues” and adding edge to softer moments, like on “The Queen of Something.” All of the elements come together nicely to create a compilation that has both substance and distinctive style.
One can just imagine a plaid-wearing Szalay behind the wheel, pondering his journey as a highway stretches before him and the sweeping Great White North surrounds him.
So far, the road ahead looks good.
Great White North’s debut, Wild As A Child, is available online. The band performs their last show with the current lineup at the 5th Annual Sunshine Festival in Oliver on July 11.