By Bobby Herron
The River and the Road are a duo based in Vancouver. They’re a strangy confection for the ear, head and heart. When you listen to their first, self-titled album, you’ll hear a sound that seems to have thousands of kilometers of bad coffee and dust behind it. They are however relatively new to the folk music scene.
Andrew Phelan and Keenan Lawlor’s voices mesh together like biscuits and gravy to deliver skillfully written songs that contain elements of roots, bluegrass, country and folk. Both are also distinctively strong vocalists individually carrying their sometimes twangy, sometimes melancholic material with confidence and conviction.
TRATR sound like they could have done a double bill with some of the best of the American folk bands of past generations. Banjo and guitar are prevalent on this album however other instrumentation including piano, drums and mandolin contribute to the earthy richness of their sound. TRATR have recently added a rhythm section, likely to help make the live show more reflective of the album’s arrangements.
This record is what you get when you put a banjo strumming North Vancouver Islander and an impressively bearded Aussie together in East Vancouver and let them play and sing relentlessly. Andrew and Keenan are hard working and dedicated to the entire process of making music. The River and the Road are going places.