The music scene of Ottawa, Canada, is usually looked at with some derision: a common perception is that local natives simply don’t support local acts, and it can be tough to get heard despite some great Ottawa blogs and concert venues out there. While that perception may not always be true, it seems to persist. However, the situation is arguably worsened if you reside in the rural Ottawa Valley, which surrounds the city. It can be tough for bands from this area to make it in Ottawa, and tend to get labelled as country hicks. (Trust me, growing up in a small Ottawa Valley town and being an early fan and something of a booster of a group called the Fireweed Company, I know how tough it can be to coax city dwellers to see country-based bands.) Well, let’s just put that notion to bed with the debut EP release of the Jimmy Tri-Tone Band, an outfit that resides outside of the nation’s capital in the tiny hamlet of White Lake, Ontario. Whether you dub them folk-rock or country-rock, dub them this as well: great. The band is comprised of James Walters and Randelle Ashley, who live together is a small countryside home and record in their studio (which the band cheekily notes may or may not be an old bus). As for the “Tri-Tone” moniker, that’s a reference to Walters’ full beard, which Ashley dubbed as such for the three colours the growth seemed to flaunt. As they say, the name stuck.
Even though Wanted is a four song, 13-minute release, it’s a promising hint of things to come because not one of these songs is a dud. In fact, the disc is basically on par with just about anything of quality released in Canada of a folksy bent. Singing of cowboys, ramblers and lovers, Wanted is certainly a top-notch release. It’s the small flourishes that make things count, whether it be the whistling on “You”, the sound of a lonely harmonica on “Trees” or Ashley’s lilting piano work throughout the record. There’s a fullness of sound to this release, despite the fact that the outfit basically comprises of two people. And, certainly, this isn’t the sound of a bunch of backwoods hicks; rather, it’s the music of people who clearly love music. Really, you’ll want the Wanted EP after you hear it because it’s so good with radio-friendly popsmithery. I predict one thing, and that’s Walters and Ashley have a bright music-making future ahead of them, regardless of wherever they call home. More of this stuff, please.