By Jason Herring, October 16 2014 —
Even though he formed the Rural Alberta Advantage in Toronto, lead singer Nils Edenloff has focused much of the group’s efforts on capturing what it’s like to grow up and live in our province, reflecting on his childhood in Fort McMurray.
Alongside backup vocalist and keyboard player Amy Cole and drummer Paul Banwatt, the Rural Alberta Advantage specializes in music that embraces prairie hometowns while managing to transcend geographical borders.
The band released their third album, Mended With Gold, on Sept. 30 to the acclaim of taste makers such as Q, Pitchfork and Paste.
Edenloff says he spent time alone in a cabin deep in the Ontario wilderness while writing the album.
“I think I was reaching a point where there were a lot of distractions in town. I think I just wanted to get away from all those distractions, unplug and just explore nature a bit. There were a lot of memories from those couple weekends,” Edenloff says. “That song, ‘“To Be Scared,”’ is specifically in reference to just being up at that cottage by myself, in the middle of nowhere. It’s kind of terrifying.”
This experience shines through on the new album, which is a dark departure from the band’s earlier work. Edenloff acknowledged this change, saying the band set out to make something that was “a little heavier, darker, but still at the same time uplifting.”
The evolution of the band’s sound is clear on the record, but it still manages to stay true to the energetic and passionate music that made the band stand out in the first place. Part of this can be credited to the band’s live sound mixer, Matt Letterman, who produced the album.
“He’s heard our songs more than anybody else,” Edenloff says, suggesting that Letterman’s history with the band ensures an organic growth in their music.
In support of Mended With Gold, the band is heading on a world tour, including a leg in Europe with six shows in Germany.
With songs in their discography such as “Vulcan, AB,” and “The Deathbridge in Lethbridge,” it’s safe to say that many fans on the other side of the world won’t know much about the places their songs refer to. But Edenloff is confident that this doesn’t matter.
“I think there’s certain aspects of the music that are more or less universal in [their] appeal,” the singer says.
Despite the broad appeal of the music, Edenloff acknowledged that being familiar with the places that inspired the songs can influence how the audience reacts to the music.
“Obviously, there’s a special reaction we get when we’re actually playing in Alberta because people actually know these places,” Edenloff says.
The Rural Alberta Advantage will play a soldout show at MacHall on Tuesday, Oct. 21 at 7:00 p.m. with guests July Talk.