For a new album that The Sheepdogs didn’t initially set out to make, Changing Colours is a stunning achievement.
Proud purveyors of guitar-driven modern-day retro rock, the triple Juno Award-winning Saskatoon-based quintet has expanded its sound on Changing Colours to encompass more styles and hues to enhance the Sheepdogs’ trademark beef-and-boogie twin-axe riffs, hooks, shuffles and long-haired aesthetic.
It’s also great, passionate music born out of spontaneity: first resonating in the 17-song album’s euphoric opener “Nobody” and continuing to flavour such invigorating numbers as the electrifying “Saturday Night” and the driving “I’ve Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be,” the record’s infectious first single.
But The Sheepdogs haven’t only stretched their sonic palate: they’ve also expanded stylistically, tastefully embracing other genres as well.
There’s the country-lite feel of “Let It Roll,” the Stax-soul aura of the mid-tempo anthem “I Ain’t Cool” that features trombone -- and the resplendent Latin-rock vibe that fuels “The Big Nowhere.”
This is what occurs when The Sheepdogs are left to their own devices:
when the band completed its global responsibilities in promoting its fifth album, 2015’s Future Nostalgia, the band took a busman’s holiday, renting Toronto’s Taurus Studio and hiring its owner, Thomas D’Arcy, to engineer and co-produce whatever emerged from their creative loins.
Drummer Sam Corbett said the music that eventually evolved into Changing Colours benefitted from the relaxed approach.
The Changing Colours sessions also marks the recording debut of the newest Sheepdog: guitar wiz Jimmy Bowskill, parachuted into the lineup as a live, last-minute replacement.
The band honours Bowskill’s addition with an instrumental tribute to his Bailieboro, Ontario hometown in the folk-flavoured “The Bailieboro Turnaround,” part of a six-song medley that begins with “Born A Restless Man” and concludes with “Run Baby Run.” Medleys, in general, have become something of a Sheepdogs signature.
It’s a calling that they have never taken for granted.
Changing Colours is a testament of The Sheepdogs’ never-ending desire to follow their muse, become increasingly prolific and deliver thrilling evenings of thundering, organic rock to their devoted audiences.
The rest just takes care of itself.