3.5 stars (out of 5)
If you take Donna the Buffalo and Old Crow Medicine Show, mix them together, unplug and slow them down, you get Slowdrag.
This Canadian band is made up of Koralee Tonack and Craig McKerron on harmony vocals and guitar, with Paul Bergman on bass, joined on a few tracks by guest artists Ivan Rosenberg on resophonic guitar and Steve Taylor on high-hat percussion. The titular claim to slowness is not a false one; the songs are laid back and, well… slow, though never boring.
The unforced and languid arrangements allow Tonack and McKerron to sing lovely and interesting harmonies that the ear really latches onto. Their duet singing has been compared to Gillian Welch and David Rawlings, but Tonack’s gentle voice is more comparable to singers like Caroline Herring or Claire Holley (minus those artists’ Mississippi twang, of course).
The album includes a nice mix of originally written and familiar songs, both beginning and ending with Carter Family tunes. The “prettied-up” and nearly twang free version of The Carter Family’s “You Are My Flower” fits nicely in with the Karl and Harty tune “I’m Just Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail,” which features some peppy mandolin soloing by McKerron.
The songwriting is above average, and the newly written songs by both Tonack and McKerron fit in smoothly alongside the old-time gems.
by Katy Leonard