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Holy harmonies! Toronto folk band Samways releases a taste of their forthcoming debut

 

Toronto-based folk quartet Samways acknowledge the work of a late, great Canadian poet in their new single, “Untrodden Ways.”

Landing ahead of their forthcoming debut album, the song is backed by a steady bass groove and the sounds of lead songwriter, guitarist and composer Nathan Hiltz’s acoustic. It’s driven by the beautiful and smile-inducing vocal harmonies of co-lead singers Shannon Butcher, Melissa Lauren, and Jessica Lalonde.

On the creation of “Untrodden Ways,” Nathan said, “I tried to channel Joni [Mitchell]’s rambunctious and expressive strumming,” adding that it highlights a “polyrhythmic feeling … which might fit in with Paul Brady — somewhere between a jig and a 1960s songwriter.”

Samways’ music incorporates lyrics drawn from 19th century Canadian poetry and beyond. It’s composed that way to serve as an homage to pre-confederation Canada.

The music for “Untrodden Ways,” for example, was written by Nathan, but the track’s lyrics are based on the poem of the same name, which was written in 1913 by the late and renowned Kingston-based author and poet Agnes Maule Machar.

As well as Agnes, Samways’ music has highlighted the works of famed Canadian poets like Bliss Carmen, Susannah Moodie, and E.J. Pratt. The band itself describes its sonic approach as a marriage of old prose with new musical idioms.

Though the up-and-coming four-piece is not able to tour during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the members have performed a number of gigs and festivals over the last few years, accompanied by session musicians Neil Macintosh (drums) and Chris Banks (bass) and violinist Mark Fewer.

To help support their upcoming 2021 album, Samways hopes to have the opportunity to hit the road again to showcase the infectious live shows that have had crowds all across Ontario irresistibly toe-tapping along to the percussive and grooving nature of their diverse and colourful folk music. For now, however, they will continue to perform to audiences digitally across the web.

While Samways is a fairly “young” band and only just breaking out onto the music scene, they’re not holding back one bit. Before even releasing their debut single, or any singles for that matter, they’ve already garnered a large mass of fans and have earned themselves a recording grant from the Toronto Arts Council.

“Untrodden Ways,” the first taste of Samways’ upcoming and untitled debut album, is available now.

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