Great Lake Swimmers & Megan Bonnell live at Baba's

Great Lake Swimmers

A Forest Of Arms is the sixth album from Tony Dekker's Great Lake Swimmers and the follow up to 2012's New Wild Everywhere. With a surging rhythm section, razor sharp violin, and flourishing banjo and guitars, Dekker and band mates have pushed their sound significantly, creating some of their most dynamic songs ever recorded.
Those familiar with the decade-long output of Great Lake Swimmers will recognize the thematic threads of beauty in the natural world, environmental issues and explorations of close personal ties that hold us together. The familiar versus the strange theme is also running through this record, both in the instrumentation and in the songwriting ("Zero In The City", "I Was A Wayward Pastel Bay").
As with past Great Lake Swimmers albums, A Forest Of Arms was recorded in several locations over the span of several months, covering extensive new territory while remaining true to the group's refined sound. One of the unique and unusual locations was Tyendinaga Cavern and Caves in Tyendinaga, Ontario, where a number of the vocal and acoustic guitar tracks, including the main parts for "Don't Leave Me Hanging," "The Great Bear" and "With Every Departure," were recorded amid haunting acoustics, stalactites, and circling bats.
The violins were recorded at the Heliconian Club of Toronto, while the bass and drum tracks were largely recorded at the Chalet Studio just outside of Toronto, a unique chalet-style recording space located on 40 acres of rolling hills and trails, in proximity to the shores of Lake Ontario. The pastoral and elemental nature of these spaces surfaces throughout the album.
The title, A Forest Of Arms, is taken from album track "The Great Bear," a song inspired by a trip Dekker took to the northern rainforests of British Columbia in September 2013 with the World Wildlife Fund. It's a pristine wilderness area that is under threat of being compromised by the construction of a pipeline, and Dekker and the group have been very vocal in their opposition to it. In a broader sense, the title is also a reference to the sense of community surrounding the Toronto-based band, as well as the band's own growing families, exhibited in the songs "Something Like A Storm" and "Expecting You."
Great Lake Swimmers consists of Tony Dekker on lead vocals and guitar, long time guitarist and banjo player Erik Arnesen, Miranda Mulholland on violin and backing vocals, Bret Higgins on upright bass and newcomer Joshua Van Tassel on drums. There are several special guest appearances on the album by Kevin Kane (Grapes Of Wrath) on 12-string electric guitar, as well as backing vocals on the song "A Bird Flew Inside The House."
Recorded and engineered by their long time live sound technician Justin Shane Nace, and mixed by the wonderfully talented Howie Beck (Feist), A Forest Of Arms also marks Dekker's 8th release of new material. In 2013, he released the solo album Prayer of the Woods, and in 2014, he released a tribute album for the artist-loving digital music distribution site Zunior on the occasion of its 10th year anniversary, entitled Tony Dekker Sings 10 Years Of Zunior. Last year saw their debut headlining performance at Toronto's historic Massey Hall, which was documented for the Live At Massey Hall series. The

band also participated in the Polaris cover sessions with their version of Sarah Harmer's "I'm A Mountain."

Megan Bonnell

Toronto-based singer/songwriter Megan Bonnell releases her sophomore album, Magnolia, on April 15, 2016 via MapleMusic Recordings. The record, which was produced once again by Chris Stringer (The Wooden Sky, Timber Timbre) and Joshua Van Tassel (David Myles, Gypsophilia), holds within it a very specific time in her life and features 11 new songs, including the first single, 'Can't Have You'.

"Magnolia started to take shape back in 2013. I was touring my first album 'Hunt and Chase' and as I did, new songs started to arrive, and thank goodness for that. It was in the making of this record that I was able to make a certain kind of sense of the world around me. Love came and went, and then came again, and my family found itself blessed by the birth of my beautiful sister's first little girl. Things were changing. I wanted to move forward, but I didn't want time to diminish history's meaning." Megan continues, "It is in these songs that I captured what these moments have meant to me, and who we were together. All of us. Just the two of us. Me. Magnolia holds within it a chapter of my life. Reflections of times and places, of heartbreak and happiness."

Magnolia is dynamic, and emotionally endowed. Its songs are honest, and do not steer away from being raw and vulnerable. The album opener, 'Can't Have You' carries traces of Bob Dylan romanticism. Like a handwritten love letter, it is a tender plea to let love go, "Lay me down if I can't have you, Let me go if there's nothing more that I can do."

Towards the album's end, waits sleeping giant, 'Dynamite'. An ode to Bonnell and co-producers Stringer, and Van Tassels love for sonic spontaneity, the song opens with hauntingly lonely piano and vocal melodies, shimmering with sadness and recollection while the two instruments rise and descend, trying to find their way through the heartbreak. Suddenly, the song unpredictably unravels into a chaotic, chant-ridden, beat driven, synth-blazing, rock-out. You are in a completely different place than where the album began. Magnolia truly leaves no rug left unturned.

Bonnell released her debut album Hunt And Chase in October 2013 on Nevado Records. She has since been touring North America in support of the release while building her profile and drawing audiences with her soulful and captivating performances. More recently, Bonnell expanded her team by partnering with Arts & Crafts publishing. She has also toured Spain with John Grant (November 2013), opened for Passenger at BIME Live festival (Bilbao, Spain) and performed at Barcelona Jazz Festival and The End festival (London, UK) all in anticipation of the release of the album in UK/EU in 2014. After wrapping up a full North American tour supporting Justin Nozuka which took her on shows across the United States and Canada, Bonnell had a noteworthy summer playing a handful of festivals across North America such as Taste of Toronto, Field Trip Music Festival, and Gateway Festival.



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