Dust Poets – World at Large

dustpoetsWorld at Large is the Dust Poets’ fourth offering and continues the group’s run at finding recognition within Canada’s folk music community. With this release, the local quintet takes aim at various socio-economic issues while concurrently steeping their work in personal matters. This is nothing you haven’t heard before, but the expert musicianship found on this album is what draws focus and sets the Poets apart. Swaying accordions, mandolins, and even a clarinet ensemble are all mainstays on World at Large, as it blends elements of roots, country, and occasionally Celtic effortlessly. There’s a very tangible passion here, and the album succeeds almost solely because of it. It’s the other elements found here that don’t hold up quite as well. In particular, the songwriting tends to fall flat in places, especially when it addresses those global issues World at Large is so concerned with. Tracks like “Deceived by Gasoline” and “Codeine Dreams” feel toothless in face of the subject matter they attempt to address, and with cutesy lines such as “I’m all goofed up/ on these Tylenol Threes,” it seems like the Poets are somehow missing the mark. It also should be said that for all the styles the band is so adept at, they rarely move beyond their comfort zone. The tracks are polished to the point of being sterile, always carefully inoffensive and delicately handled. They never reach the point of being bland, but it can become numbing after a time. Still, if you can manage to look past these problems, and can appreciate the album as a showcase in skill rather than in creativity, there’s likely enough in the talent and enthusiasm behind these songs to keep it likable. (Productive Apathy, www.dustpoets.com) Kevan Hannah