July 15, 2009

Review: The Gertrudes – Hard Water (with live tracks)

Posted in bootleg, mp3, mumbling at 8:49 pm by rgsc

photo from The Gertrudes’ myspace.

There are three reasons why I want to talk about The Gertrudes today. First of all, they are playing the Friday night Lake Ontario Waterkeepers event at the Wolfe Island Music Fest on August 7th at the Island Grill along with Dave Bidini and other friends.

Secondly, a few members of the band will be playing at a fundraiser for the awesome Made4You on Friday, July 17th at The Artel – cover is only $10 and you get a 15% coupon for your next purchase at the store. Get all the wedding presents you need for the rest of the summer and get a jump on your xmas shopping while supporting this wonderful collective. More details can be found here.

And last, but certainly not least, I wanted to talk to you about The Gertrudes today because I just got my hands on their wonderful, brand-spankin’-new ep called “Hard Water”, which set to be released on August 7th.

The new record features 6 new songs, two of which were recorded live. A gentleness pervades the album. The aquatic theme which runs across the majority of the songs and the pace of the record definitely bring to mind early summer evenings by the lake. The Gertrudes are going to get where they need to be at their own speed. Their songs are never forced but rather seem to evolve slowly but purposefully. Textures and layers are developed, only to be stripped away and reapplied, as guitar, banjo, accordion, percussion, horns, theremin etc. etc. appear and disappear, commingling, playing off each other.  And above it all are the fantastic vocals of Annie Clifford and Greg Tilson.

What is perhaps most remarkable about The Gertrudes, and exhibited so perfectly on the new record, is their restraint. Despite having 12 members in the band, there is no jostling to be heard. Each instrument is used to its best effect, showing up when needed and retreating when not. This is so key, given the frequently gentle and delicate harmonies employed by the band. Which is not to say that they can’t rock-the-heck-out when needed, but they use the power of their numbers to create solid foundations and intricate textures, without having ever a muddled or overwrought sound.

The Gertrudes have produced an EP that is at the same time timeless and innovative. Their sound is rooted in folk tradition but, through their creativity and talent, they take their folky tunes into wonderful, unexpected places.

From Hard Water:

River (aka Turn Out the Lights)

Live video of the song ‘Hard Water’

And here are a few live tracks recorded at the 2009 Apple Crisp Music Fest.

The Gertrudes, Apple Crisp Music Festival, Next Church, Kingston, 20 March 2009


Hard Water

Catfish John (cover)

The Gertrudes have a few live dates coming up in addition to WIMF so check ’em out if you can:

1 Aug 2009 Sappy Fest, Sackville, NB
6 Aug 2009 The Blacksheep Inn, Wakefield, PQ
7 Aug 2009 Wolf Island Music Festival, Marysville, Wolfe Island, ON

Buy The Gertrudes’ first ep from Zunior and at discerning retailers around Kingston. I imagine Hard Water will be available there too in due time [update: Hard Water is now available for only $6.66. Scoot on over to Zunior and get it now!]


  1. Daniel said,

    Thank you bootlog, whoever you are! (I’m sure I’ve stood next to you before – we go to all the same concerts!) You are doing god’s work. And tremendously listenable for audience recordings. I’m sure I’ll be giving the unreleased Catfish John some spins, and I actually prefer your Steamroller by Bruce Peninsula to the album one – it captures the thunder of their live show.

    I think your Hard Water link is the wrong file.

  2. rgsc said,

    Hey Daniel – Thanks for your kind words and thanks for letting me know about HardWater.

    You were right – I uploaded the wrong file. The link is now fixed.


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