Street Sounds: Vernon trio evokes the west

Steel Wound adds an unmistakable western atmosphere to their acoustic-based songs on Last Dance at the Starlight Lounge.

Vernon folk-roots trio Steel Wound uses their harmonizing skills to add an unmistakable western atmosphere to their acoustic-based songs on Last Dance at the Starlight Lounge. The songs are character-driven and redolent of the B.C. acoustic folk-rock tradition.

The three-piece, Keith Hustler (guitar, mandolin, vocals), Rod MacDonald (acoustic bass, vocals) and Kerry Parks (guitar, dobro, harmonica, vocals) pick nimbly through a collection of Parks’ original material and sympathetic cover songs.

Interplay and clean delivery are keys to the trio’s sound: a sense of swing that evokes barn dances and rural beer parlours.

Being westerners the twang is muted and the melodies are poignant and relaxed.

That Same Old Sad Love Song captures that quality and moves it further with the lines, “You came walkin’ in with an old friend/And the start of our love story/Was his love story’s end.”  The mood and sound the group goes for is akin to Dylan’s Nashville Skyline album.

A true slice of old-school Canadiana is revealed on No Sad Songs, a plaintive lost love track that recalls Neil Young’s quieter moments. Freight Train has a similar appeal with a forward acoustic drive.

Like other B.C. acoustic groups, Steel Wound has a sweet tooth for Tex-Mex on their cover of Catch You in the Rye, a party song featuring crisp guitar work. They ring their guitars out and frame their stories with easy going harmonies. It’s a friendly sound with intensity underneath it.

Ed note: Steel Wound holds a seedy (CD) release party for Last Dance at the Starlight Lounge, Oct. 24 at the Vernon Elks Lodge.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews new music releases for The Morning Star every Friday.