City Of Refuge
SCQ Rating: 81%
Some records land on year-end lists strictly because of their embracing or effacing textbook rules, whereby they tailor their set of songs to a particular crowd. Other records cling to importance by eliciting the mood and memory of a certain time-period. Although Abigail Washburn arrived to SCQ’s pages a virtual stranger, her City Of Refuge full-length found its way to these year-end accolades through both its awe-inspired craft and the memories it evokes.
March had yet to soften when City Of Refuge began traveling with us on weekend house-hunting trips. Scouring the outskirts of Ottawa – through Russell, Carleton Place, Richmond, and Kemptville – Washburn’s bluegrass-inflected folk complimented every snow-covered plain. From ‘Chains’, which calls to mind a lush but rustic Fleetwood Mac, to the country gospel of ‘Devine Bell’, City Of Refuge runs a gamut of styles finely tuned by an all-star ensemble (including, among many others, the jazz-guitar great Bill Frisell).
Eventually we called off the hunt, realizing that life in a big old farmhouse, far away from civilization, might not be the wisest decision. And only when City Of Refuge floods through my speakers do I wonder if we were wrong.