OTTAWA-BASED singer/songwriter Amanda Rheaume is big on her family tree, so much so that she has written and released an album, Keep A Fire, inspired by the genealogical findings she has made as she has toured around her native Canada.
Consequently, her likeable but not spectacular set of accessible roots and country pop is replete with songs about her interesting and occasionally well-connected forebears, including two with Scottish roots.
Ancient Rime concerns her maternal grandfather, Thomas Arthur Irvine, who crewed the intrepid icebreaker HMCS Labrador, while A.G.B. Bannatyne pays tribute to her great-great-great grandfather’s association with indigenous Canadian campaigner Louis Riel. Keep A Fire In The Rain, meanwhile, celebrates her mixed race heritage and the historical prejudice faced by mixed European and native Canadian couples.
Interesting as these stories are, however, they are not illuminated any further by Rheaume’s obvious and sometimes sentimental storytelling lyrics which did not catch the ear quite as effectively as some of the instrumental contributions from her two musical wingmen, providing some atmosphere by using distortion or bowing the electric bass and livening up a straightforward number with some peppy country swing licks on guitar.
Likewise, Rheaume’s voice is pleasant with just a touch of grit but, as her ordinary cover of Neil Young’s Heart Of Gold demonstrated, she did not stand out as a performer in front of this small, muted audience.
Seen on 04.08.14