Reviewed by Eugenia Vela.
A New Balance, the self-released debut album from southern Ontario’s Brett Caswell & the Marquee Rose, is a small collection of songs that might seem we’ve heard before, at some point in time. The material isn’t new or surprising, but through Caswell’s stories of loss, sympathy and internal confrontation grows a sprout of comforting potential.
Caswell and his band created a mix of country(ish) rock fused with piano, violin and simple yet effective harmonies that blend beautifully with his own lyrics. The singer-songwriter holds style reminiscent of Elliott Smith-meets-My Morning Jacket with a voice similar to that of Gavin DeGraw’s, very familiar yet fresh enough to enjoy the full album with no regrets.
The title track is one of my favorites, with its initial bouncy beat, along with later tracks such as “Nicaraguawhaaa?” which includes old-school oohs and aahs as backup to Caswell’s singing. There seems to be enough range between songs that they go to one extreme of alternative rock and others that go full-on country.
The album’s not my personal style or taste, but it’s soothing and comforting enough to listen to, sing along to and possibly include in a Cameron Crowe film (and that’s a high compliment, my friends). A New Balance could be described in one word: charming. It’s respectable, appreciable and—once again—charming, but nothing mind-blowing or challenging. Caswell clearly has the talent to go further and push himself, but for now, however admirable, A New Balance isn’t quite memorable enough.
Red River rating: 6.5 out of 10