Every Tuesday, Torontoist scours record store shelves in search of the city’s most notable new releases and brings you the best—or sometimes just the biggest—of what we’ve heard in Sound Advice.
Now a broken-in and beefed-up sextet, the band experiments with more ambitious arrangements on this record, dabbling in piano-led dirges (“Brother”), Spaghetti Western shuffles (“Ties That Bind”), and even a pinch of Fleetwood Mac (“Waiting On Another”). The core of these tunes, however, still centres around singer Simone Schmidt’s poetic portraits of downcast humanity—now more heartwrenching than ever. In a reverb-drenched, world-weary drawl, she assumes the perspective of a different crestfallen soul in each song: “Where The Sparrows Drop” sees her offer a sympathetic embrace to a couple wrenched apart by financial insecurity and war, while on foreboding album closer “Black Gold” (streaming above) she stands in the shoes of Fort McMurray oil workers forced to leave their families and wrestle with wanton temptations.
Though Songs of Man could easily be confused for a protest record, it really isn’t. Rather than mobilizing people to make a difference, One Hundred Dollars merely illustrate cold hard truths via matter-of-fact requiems. It may be depressing, but it’s got our undivided attention. For a country record, that’s no turkey shoot.