My respect for Saskatoon’s Deep Dark Woods began when I picked “Hang Me Oh Hang Me” as the 38th best album of 2007. I loved the bands smart mix of traditional bluegrass and Americana, which made it sound classic and traditional all at the same time. Lead singer Ryan Boldt sounds as old as Jerry Garcia, but his voice much stronger. He gives the band it’s gravitas, while lead guitarist Burke Barlow gives it its soul.

The sad and slow “Farewell” is almost a lullaby, and it would be the perfect send-off for the album. If it weren’t the lead track! But if forlorn isn’t your bag, make sure you stick around for the second song, the bouncy “Nancy,” a ditty, punctuated by a fiddle solo, that is almost (gasp!) danceable! Other noteworthy tracks here include “As I Roved Out,” another sad number, and “All the Money I Had is Gone,” which sounds like an old country standard, complete with stellar harmonies and fabulous lyrics. By my favorite cut is the 6-minute “How Can I Try.” I can’t use words to describe it. It takes my breath away. From track to track, the album paints a sepia-toned season of log cabins with snow-topped trees and a warm fire at night.

The Deep Dark Woods aren’t for everyone, I recognize that. They’ve toured with some pretty on-the-fringe dudes, The Sadies, Utah Phillips, Magnolia Electric Co. and The Stills. But if you give them a listen with open ears and open heart, I bet you’ll find what I did: A band totally in love with music, with the talent to spread their joy. This band is the best of its kind, masters of their genre, and well worth your time and money. On the Black Hen label.

From Winter Hours (2009):

All the Money I Had is Gone

From Hang Me, Oh Hang Me (2007):

Hang Me Oh Hang Me

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