100 Mile House - Hollow Ponds
2011, 100 Mile House
100 Mile House spent 2010 building their own success. The Edmonton, Alberta trio of husband and wife Peter Stone and Denise McKay and multi-instrumentalist Scott Zubot built a following in Western Canada touring on the back of their debut album, Fall To Fall. Airplay across Canada and a performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics helped to build a quiet buzz for the band. 100 Mile House returns in 2011 with Hollow Ponds; a contemplative album that follows the escapes and recoveries of the human heart.
100 Mile House kicks things off with the title track. "Hollow Ponds" is the story of a prodigal son who is not yet ready to return home, but is drawn by the memory of comfort and safety. The song is built from gorgeous, simple instrumentation, and is filled with startling imagery. "Edward IV" is a driven folk/country number, full of prosaic story-telling and urgent energy. The music almost becomes secondary against the power of the tale. "Linden Tree" is a one-sided dialogue that leaves much out of the reach of understanding, but is compelling in its urgency.
"Better, Still" is a mildly catchy song about priorities in the form of family and loves ones. It's a nice tune with a positive message; as impactful in message as it is subtle musically. 100 Mile House settles into the middle of Hollow Ponds with four solid album tracks in "Freeland", "Sigh", "Queen St." and "Honey". All are solid and well-written without calling particular attention to themselves. Things pick up a bit with the enigmatic ballad "A Promise". The band explores death, grief and the power of words in almost clinical fashion, but not without a good dose of heart in the end. The song is moving, and will mean the most to those for whom such a situation is fresh. "Because You're Mine" is a gypsy folk number with big rock attitude. McKay and Stone share vocals here and play off of each other beautifully, while exploring the great truth of love. 100 Mile House closes with the pensive strains of "Morning Light"; pursuing a dream of comfort, but finding truth in the riches of a simple life.
100 Mile House builds on the quiet success of Fall To Fall with a sonically beautiful and thought-filled effort in Hollow Ponds. 100 Mile House have certainly refined their songwriting since 2009, growing into an even more cohesive and organic sound. Hollow Ponds is a winner.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)