Zero by Little Suns

Release date: December 8, 2017
Label: Self-Released

These days when somebody says folk music, usually they have in mind a solitary girl/guy with an acoustic guitar with some sparse backing and some sad songs on their playlist, still sounding, well, quite urban. The original meaning of the word folk, particularly in connection with more modern proponents of such music seems to have been pushed in the background, particularly since the bands like Beirut and Hawk and The Hacksaw have been inactive for a while now.

So, are you willing to lend your ear to a Canadian version of actually a combination of the sounds the two aforementioned bands have been making? If the answer is yes, then you actually can’t do much better than Zero, a six-track EP by the Montreal/Ottawa collective Little Suns.

Lead by John Aaron Cockburn (any relation to Bruce?) and actually involving members from around the globe, the collective convened into a little cabin in the Canadian Appalachians where it seems that Cockburn and drummer Liam Smith have come up with their own production studio.

The band did have a previous incarnation that came up with an album in 2013, but it seems that their previous record label was of the opinion they weren’t coming up with the goods, so they were dropped and have more or less disbanded.

It took Cockburn, Smith and the others quite some time to come up with this EP, which turns to be quite an intricate affair with some nice musical twists and turns. Similarly to Beirut and Hawk and The Hacksaw, Little Suns keep the base of the Balkan/Eastern oriented folk (particularly with the brass and accordion arrangements), but that base is used to introduce some quite interesting musical changes, particularly on tracks like ‘Sail On’ and ‘Vibrations’, the latter including some quite nifty electric guitar and drumming.

Actually, while the sound has that Easter folky colour, it doesn’t dominate the music but gives it an interesting tone, but still making it quite recognisable, like on the opener ‘Dirty Children’ and closer ‘Human Touch’.  Cockburn’s vocals are a bit reminiscent of Beirut’s Zach Condon, but not in a manner to call him a copycat in any respect.

Based on Zero, it is evident that Cockburn and his collective have a bundle of musical ideas in tow, that deserve a full album, but doing it all on of your own means certain publishing restrictions. One thing is for sure – Zero amounts to much more than its title.

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