CD review: 31B Victoria
By Rachel Jagt
St.John's native Dave Anthony, transplanted since 1995 to Ottawa, excels on his second release, "31B Victoria". He showcases his own tunes, as well as some rearranged traditional songs and some covers. Anthony is very much a part of the Newfoundland tradition of singers and songwriters - he writes and sings about home with infectious passion; it's a passion that I've always found makes me wish I was from the Rock myself, a passion that welcomes visitors to the traditions and history of that enigmatic region of Canada.
Most notable among the traditional fare is one of the best interpretations of "P Stands for Paddy" that I've heard. It's fast and furious, with Oliver Schroer on fiddle, Adam Staple on drums, Andre Bourbonnais on harmony vocals, and a growling lead vocal and a wicked bodhran solo from Anthony. He follows it with another trad tune, "I Wish They'd Do it Now". It's a danceable, happy sad song, again dominated by Schroer's fiddle.
Anthony's voice softens with affection on Michael Geraghty's "I Will Go Sailing", a song about going away and missing home. He wrote the party song "31B Victoria" about that home, painted on the CD cover by his brother Don, in St.John's, "Seven minutes from George Street". Anthony proves to have a versatile vocal talent on Alistair MacGilvary's "Kitty Bawn O'Brien" - an ancient voice, deep and soulful, tells a heartbreaking story of lost love. I was apprehensive when I saw that Anthony covers the Stan Rogers classic "Flowers of Bermuda". Not just anyone can do justice to the legacy of Stan Rogers; but Anthony does and the strength of his voice evident. He follows that triumph with his bodhran and a growl in "Maid of Amsterdam".
"31B Victoria" is an excellent record - there is variety in the songs and the vocals and musicianship are worthy of recognition. Anthony keeps the tempo up for the entire record, with lots of fiddle and percussion (especially bodhran) and a brogue is both old and modern. For fans of Celtic influenced music and Newfoundland culture, this record is a must. And the record has a rough feel to it that makes me sure that his live show is quite something to hear, whether solo or with a full band.