SKYDIGGERS play Hugh’s Room on June 8 and 9. See listing. Rating: NNN
The eighth album from local roots rockers Skydiggers is an ambitious, almost hour-long effort that was recorded over a few sessions at guitarist Josh Finlayson's Man Cave, Blue Rodeo's Woodshed and the Tragically Hip's Bathouse studio. There's a lot of variety, from the sparse slow build of accordion-drenched opener Waves to the big alt-pop groove of Fire Engine (Red Explosion) and the Byrdsy Andrew Cash cover You've Been Gone So Long.
The band's adventurous use of sampling and beats pays off when supporting Andy Maize's vocal on The Herd, but the alt-folk arrangements tend to get melodramatic on quieter songs like I'll Be There and the tremolo-piano-treated title track. They save some of the best for near-last: a rollicking cover of Mickey Newbury's Why You Been Gone So Long and pretty Without Me, featuring Guelph's Jessy Bell Smith.
Top track: You'll Come Around