CD Review: Travelling Show – The Undesirables

A Work of Genius

A Work of Genius

Fans of the  Southern Ontario duo The Undesirables have surely heard poet and lead singer Corin Raymond introduce his musical mate, acoustic guitar wizard Sean Cotton, as “the band”.

To audiences, this term comes as no surprise as Corin’s introduction usually occurs an hour or so into an energetic and musical set, generated by a single acoustic guitar and a pair of soulful voices that feels significantly more potent than the sum of its parts.

And when a live act leaves this kind of impression on me, I usually spin the next studio offering with trepidation, for rarely does a record manage to capture the live magic, especially given the additional visual treat that the boys offer up with their passionate, sweating heat on stage.

However, Traveling Show is a record where the Undies truly reveal the stuff that hangs beneath the cotton.

It begins with a stroke of brilliance, the casting of violinist John Showman. The lads credit him as “a one man string section”, and just as Sean does on guitar, that is exactly what Showman delivers. The strings dramatically alter the Undies’ sound, to the extent that it jarred me for the first spin; I found myself alternately looking at the car stereo and CD sleeve with the expression my dog makes when he hears a new high-pitched noise. It is almost as though Corin and Sean added an equal third to the mix, a risk that proves to be both sensational and ballsy.

I quickly forgot the live vs. recorded comparison. The new sounds, complemented by the great bass guitar work by Joe Phillips and Ryan Menard and typically solid drumming from Adam Warner and Chris Carmichael swept me directly into the wild trip that Corin’s evocative lyrics invited me to take with him.

Add to this Sean’s groove, complete with occasional subtle Zep & Stones flavoured guitars, and a rare, risky but excellent duo-duet with the amazing Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther (aka Dala), and the final result is a record that is a work of genius.

Andy Frank

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