Warner Brothers Records (Canada), 2000
REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 11/08/1999
I approached ordering Turn from Great Big Sea with trepidation, for lo, the Egbert household had laid under a curse this fall, with major disappointments from both Moxy Fruvous and Paula Cole adding gall to our new music wine. I was afraid bad things came in threes, and to get a bad album from Great Big Sea, one of my favorite bands, would have probably just been a major bummer.
But the gods smiled upon me. So much so that the only question I ask, addressed to all the A&R men out there who read our page (all one of you, because I suspect the rest can't read) is this: WHY, OH WHY, DOES GREAT BIG SEA NOT HAVE AN AMERICAN RECORDING CONTRACT?
OK, I'm better.
Turn is the fourth Canadian release from Newfoundland quartet Great Big Sea, and once again they prove that they may be the best Celtic/folk/party/sea chanty synthesis band out there. For that matter, they may be the ONLY C/f/p/sc s band out there, but who's counting? Great Big Sea is a hell of a lot of fun to listen to, a quartet of audacious lads who think nothing about backing up a traditional Celtic instrumental with a speed-folk cover of REM, and Turn continues to prove just how good they are. In fact, Turn proves they're better than I thought they were, adding substance to the quirky eclecticness.
The album kicks off with the tongue-in-cheek harmony pop of "Consequence Free". If it's dancing you're looking to do, Turn offers the boasting "Jack Hinks", the Jimmy-Buffett-meets-St-John harmonies of "Margarita", the cheerfully drunken "I'm A Rover", and the hopeful yet hilarious lover of "Old Brown's Daughter". Then the thoughtful social commentary comes out as well, shades of Up's "Chemical Worker's Song" -- the soft yet celebratory "Feel It Turn" and the haunting, driving "Demasduit Dream". Capping it all, there are the traditional melodies of "Trois Navires de Ble" and "Captain Wedderburn". There isn't a bad track on Turn, a rare compliment.
The heartfelt and emotional "Boston And St John's" is worth the price of the CD by itself, a deeply passionate ballad that took my breath away the first time I heard it. For fans of the band, this is in many ways the counter to "Fast As I Can" from Rant And Roar, a musical plea for a lover to be remembered.
Turn is simply one of the best CDs I've heard this year. There is no American release date, and no plans I can find to set one (remember, slap an American recording executive today), but the Canadian import is available at CDNow, which is where I got mine. Spend the money. Get it. You won't be disappointed.