With a title like Grandma’s Rules for Drinking, the most recent release from Canadian folk group Annie Lou, offers intriguing possibilities for potential listeners. What they will find upon pressing play is an enjoyable collection of original music in the string band tradition. The songs here, which are rooted firmly in the old-time genre, celebrate the simple, sometimes humorous moments in life.
Annie Lou is fronted by Anne Louise Genest, a British Columbia-based songwriter and musician. Genest takes care of the songwriting and lead vocals, creating a compilation of melodic, peaceful tunes. The bouncy album opener, The Plaid Parade, seems at first to just be the musings of a small child watching others on their way to work and school. Upon a closer listen, you realize the little girl has made several keen observations. On the Main Drag shares a familiar story for anyone who has tried to escape someone’s memory in a town where everything reminds of you them.
The gentle love song Don’t You Know, Boy reminds listeners not to give up on the hope of finding the one. Teach Me to Dance is an amusing tune about a city girl’s efforts to learn to dance, split between upbeat verses with nice banjo work, and slower, fiddle-backed choruses. Another humorous cut is the traditional song Take Your Leg Off Mine, which describes the struggles of sharing a too-small bed with a too-tall man. While the laidback-sounding title track seems as though it, too, may be on the comical side of things, grandma’s rules (which are quite logical) actually come from a woman raising three daughters while her husband was away working.
In addition to lead vocals, Genest also contributes guitar and banjo. She is joined by Kim Barlow (banjo, harmony vocals), Max Heineman (bass), Andrew Collins (mandolin, guitar), Frank Evans (banjo), and John Showman (fiddle). The group, particularly the fiddle and banjo players, gets to show off their skills on the album’s three instrumentals, particularly the fiddle tune Belvedere Hotel. The highlight of the album is Showman’s fiddle work, which is spot-on throughout, both in the background and while taking solos.
For more information on Annie Lou, visit the band’s website at www.annielou.ca.
Grandma’s Rules for Drinking is available from several online music retailers, including iTunes, Amazon and CDBaby.