Over the Moon – Chinook Waltz
A chinook is a warm wind that blows eastward over the Rocky Mountains and warms up parts of western North America in the winter. When you live on a ranch in the foothills of southern Alberta, like Craig Bicknell and Suzanne Levesque – the musicians of Over The Moon – do, chinooks are a constant in your life. It’s therefore no surprise that these winds feature prominently in Chinook Waltz, Craig and Suzanne’s musical tribute to the land and the life they have found there.
Over The Moon is the very apt name for Craig and Suzane’s duo. They were indeed over the moon a few years ago when they met, and they still adore each other – partners in life as well as in music.
Chinook Waltz, their second CD, is just as beautiful as the place where they live. Longview, AB, is within sight of the Rocky Mountains. The hills and valleys roll across the landscape until the massive mountain peaks reach up to the big Alberta sky. You see it all in a grand vista, from miles and miles away. When you go there, your heart aches with the beauty of this landscape and the caring sense of community that exists within the hearts of the people there. The music on this album absolutely puts you in those foothills, where, as the band says, a handshake really is worth more than a thousand signed documents.
This album might be labelled as country music. But put very simply, this is not your usual torch and twang. In fact, it’s just not torch and twang at all. Pedal steel guitar is played on several tracks, so you do get the feeling of rural country music, but to us listeners, it’s more about the atmosphere. It’s giving us a taste of that Albertan landscape.
Bringing this CD to fruition was a challenge for Craig and Suzanne. Not only were they trying to complete it during the first pandemic year (2020), but doctors discovered that Craig had an undiagnosed cardiac defect that required open heart surgery. So, it has been rather a journey to bring this music to the world.
Suzanne and Craig are formidable songwriters. Five of the 10 tracks are their own compositions. I would venture to say that their works, and especially “Lonesome Bluebird” and the title track, Chinook Waltz, give all the other songwriters represented here a run for their money.
The album includes a variety of inspired covers. Over The Moon’s beautiful rendition of Ian Tyson’s “Someday Soon” fits right in on this recording. There are also love songs drawn from eras long ago, such as Harry Roy’s “They Can’t Black Out The Moon” and “Darcy Farrow” by Steve Gillette and Tom Campbell. The selection of songs for this CD is pretty darn perfect. They were songs that were just made to be sung together.
And of course, it doesn’t hurt that Suzanne’s stellar voice reminds you of Canada’s ‘Snowbird,’ Anne Murray, in her younger days. There is a clarity, warmth and angelic quality to Suzanne’s singing that invariably brings tears to the eyes of audience members when they hear her. Among the really great arrangements of classic songs here, “Chinook Waltz” is a lovely piece about what it’s like to be out on a foothills ranch on a warm autumn night, and “Lonesome Bluebird” is about having the courage to fly. On both of these tracks, Suzanne shines. And, when you play the entire CD, or hear the band live, Suzanne completely lights up the room.
You absolutely don’t want to miss this terrific music. Check out their website for concert dates and information on how to purchase the music.