From the limited-edition hand-bound book packaging to the faux naïf liner-note line drawings to the stamped library card signed by all the musicians who contributed to the disc, A Scant Sixty-Three comes off more as a lovingly crafted artifact than an album proper. That homemade quality is in keeping with the rough observational lyrics and slack energy of the lo-fi Canadiana tunes by the Great Outdoors - ostensibly a pseudonym for VanCity solo artist Adam Nation, though this album features at least eight of his pals. Nation's vocals fall between Richard Buckner and Jason Collett, and he writes with a wry macho poeticism that's sweet but not sentimental, setting his detailed first-person stories to arrangements of resonator guitar, found sound loops and the occasional horn or ukulele flourish. The tunes are enjoyable in a lackadaisical way, but Nation's actual writing is far more interesting than what he's doing musically - the cute little book is almost more compelling than the album.
The Great Outdoors launch their CD at Speakeasy Tuesday (February 14).