The Rural Alberta Advantage: Hope can live as the leaves turn gold

By Graeme Wiggins
Photo: Vanessa Heins

Photo: Vanessa Heins

VANCOUVER — It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that fall is the quintessential Canadian season. As the cold descends, hockey season begins and the cold winds pick up. It is only fitting then at the beginning of this fall The Rural Alberta Advantage, with their own aesthetic and history steeped in small-town, prairie Canadiana, are back again with a new album and tour to support it.

The new album, Mended With Gold, is the first in three-and-a-half years. That time was partly due to touring and partly due to perfectionism. “We’re all a little hard on ourselves when it comes to the songs,” says singer and guitarist Nils Edenloff, adding, “We worked them out over time on the road.” This perfectionism and touring process took their sound into new sonic territory. Explains Edenloff, “The first two records are very connected sonically, so with this one, we wanted to do something a little different.” The difference was to enlist their tour manager/sound engineer, Matt Lederman to help produce the album. “He knows our music well. He’s probably heard the songs more than even us, really.” Co-producing  the record with Leon Taheny, they pointed focus on recreating the energy from their live shows.

The resulting album has a more full sound and a little different energy than the previous two. The songs sound fuller and more well-rounded sonically. This was also partly the result of a more collaborative effort this time round with each of the members bringing more to the table. The lyrics are still quite personal and moving, and Mended With Gold rings with certain melancholy that is tempered with the aspirational feeling evoked in the title. “The lyrics come a little later in the process for me,” says Edenloff. “Once I had written them, I approached Paul and Amy asking them if they were too personal. Ultimately, they thought I shouldn’t try to obfuscate what’s personal to me. It’s part of what makes our band what it is. They are personal lyrics but they have a universality that people can relate to.”

Now with the album released, the band is embarking on a lengthy tour to support it. For a band whose music conjures up the vast expanses of the country and perfectly suits a good road trip soundtrack, the thought of an upcoming tour is still daunting. It’s been quite some time since their last one, in support of Departing. “It’ll be our longest tour since the tour we did after Departing was released, three years ago. We’ve played a few small ones but nothing this long and there’s definitely some apprehensiveness about it. It can be hard to be gone for so long,” worries Edenloff.

As or what to expect in the live show,  “Our shows are pretty high energy. I mean, Paul is an exciting and energetic drummer to watch live and Amy bounces around on stage…expect sing-alongs.”

With the prospect of a bleak fall and winter ahead, Canada could use some of the healing power suggested in Mended With Gold and would be wise to check it out, both live, and on record.

The Rural Alberta Advantage perform at the Starlite Room (Edmonton) on October 20, at MacEwan Ballroom (Calgary) on October 21 and Commodore Ballroom (Vancouver) October 23.

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