Great Lakes Swimmers - New Wild Everywhere (Nettwerk) 

Toronto folkie Tony Dekker’s beloved project comes out of the studio with something spectacularly dull

Anyone following Toronto folkie Tony Dekker's beloved Great Lakes Swimmers project since its inception will face New Wild Everywhere, the first GLS album recorded in a conventional studio, with incredulity that he'd consciously issue something so spectacularly dull. Surely the refurbished lineup and polished setting were distracting him when he declared it complete — or else, one hopes, he wouldn't have.

Yet there's an undercurrent of passionate outreach to a new, larger audience here, and in this economy for musicians nobody can begrudge the Swimmers that. Their target, judging by future Muzak staples such as "Cornflower Blue" and "Fields of Progeny," is either adult contemporary radio or a background spot on A Prairie Home Companion. Musically, this is fine so long as you forget that Prairie Home fans are usually a bit too high-brow to stand for lyrics like "It's a beautiful night / To fall in love" and "Put your arms around me / And don't ever let go." This credibility-stretcher offers scarcely the faintest echoes of the gorgeously expressed pain on "Moving, Shaking" and "Your Rocky Spine," but Dekker still deserves the benefit of our doubt — for now.

More by Nathan Phillips

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