Turn Back the Clock
This might sound like a backhanded compliment, but I had no idea – at least, until I started looking things up online and doing some research behind this album – that the duo behind Old Time Machine were Canadian. As an old timey folk/country outfit, and even that descriptor might be a little too sophomoric, Ryan McNally and Kyle Cashen successfully mine a style of music that you could easily slap the moniker “Americana” on. But, no. They hail from Whitehorse, Yukon, of all places. That a group that could come from such wintery, Northern climes and make a record that is as warm and invigorating as this self-titled debut is a bit of a revelation. And quite the strong one at that, with its washes of mandolin, ukulele and kick drum providing the primary means of instrumentation.
Now with a seemingly proper American release under its belt as of October, Old Time Machine is exactly that: a retro-feeling style of countrified stompers that some critics have taken to comparing to, and somewhat unfairly, the junkyard clank of Tom Waits. Whereas Tom Waits is at times off-putting and experimental to many listeners (not that this makes him any less of an artist), Old Time Machine is much more inviting, tossing up song after song of clangy music. Jaws may drop when McNally’s falsetto takes centre stage, as it does on “Doin’ All I Can Do”, which comes early and is clearly an album highlight. However, there is a startling maturity to the Old Time Machine sound, and there’s a consistency of vision to be had across these nine tracks. While the similarity of material can get a little wary and weary after awhile, Old Time Machine is stocked with back-to-back killer tracks that make for a wholly consistent affair. All in all, time spent with Old Time Machine is ultimately rewarding and well worth it.