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Great Lake Swimmers
Lost Channels
Nettwerk Records
www.greatlakeswimmers.com


Okay, it's difficult not to make a sarcastic remark when Great Lake Swimmers' singer Tony Dekker complains, "Everything is moving so fast," in a song of the same name. 'Tony, that's like a granny in the freeway slow lane, traveling 40 mph and shaking her fist at everybody who passes her by. Of course, everything seems fast when you're playing slow motion music!' Lost Channels is an album traveled by Sunday drivers, who are contemplating the fast forwarding world all around them.

In Dekker's defense, however, it'd be a whole lot easier to notice the world's beauty if you'd only slow down a bit. "Pulling On A Line" naturally uses a fishing analogy - fishing, of course, is one of the most stationary "activities" known to mankind. Its lyric takes the old saying - sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you - and puts it into fishing vernacular. Musically, this gentle track incorporates some mighty fine jangle guitar, which may remind you of early R.E.M. recordings. Next up, "Concrete Heart", mixes in strings and vibraphone, as it softly ruminates on the rock hard subject matter of cold emotions.

Great Lake Swimmers often get compared to folks like Neil Young, Will Oldham, and Red House Painters. And while their hushed sounds are obviously comparable to these artists, Dekker is a much better singer than all of them combined. He's a little sad sounding, yet still pretty, whereas those other singers, to put it nicely, sing with character.

Folk-rock and soft rock are the stylistic descriptors that come most immediately to mind while this CD plays, although the fiddle and banjo that help fill out "The Chorus In The Underground" turn it into a song that holds appeal to both the bluegrass fan and the traditional country aficionado. The big acoustic guitars driving "Still" bring out Great Lake Swimmers' purest folk colors. It's easy, for instance, to imagine Mike Scott of The Waterboys singing it. Its lyric speaks of anticipation over what to do next in life. The word "still" is used in one sense to suggest Dekker is still waiting, like ink to be put to a page, for example. But it's also used in the sense of one standing still, longing to move - almost in any direction, for the sake of movement.

Lost Channels is music for those that prefer to sit down in a restaurant and wait to be served. It's for folks that take time to stop at rest stops during long trips, just to look around at surroundings for a spell. But if you're in a hurry, Great Lake Swimmers' music may be a little trying on your patience. So by all means, only listen to Lost Channels when you have plenty of time and attention span to get to know it.

- Dan MacIntosh

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