Great Lake Swimmers: Human Nature

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Monday's Pick

  • Song: "Pulling on a Line"
  • Artist: Great Lake Swimmers
  • CD: Lost Channels
  • Genre: Folk-Pop
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"Pulling on a Line" exemplifies Great Lake Swimmers' beautiful simplicity while still putting together familiar musical pieces in new ways. courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption courtesy of the artist

It's a little too easy to pigeonhole Great Lake Swimmers as a one-trick folk-pop band that doesn't deviate much from imagery tying human interaction to nature. But while the Canadians' new album, Lost Channels, fits easily into that thematic canon, it also dips into new territory, forgoing pretty but plain melodies in favor of more key changes and greater instrumental variety. "Pulling on a Line" exemplifies Great Lake Swimmers' beautiful simplicity, but also its ability to put together familiar musical pieces in new ways.

The subjects aren't new — trees, snow, sky, water — but the melody is dazzling and downright infectious. Tony Dekker's gorgeous vocal sounds like a ghost of the past, embodying solitude but not loneliness, harmony but not joy. In the unexpected and compelling downshift of the chorus, a fishing metaphor conjures the struggle with a hooked fish that won't come easily. But the song takes that tug-of-war in stride ("I'm just pulling on a line / and sometimes it pulls on me"), suggesting that it's the struggles that make life worthwhile, especially when you finally land what you were fighting for.

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