Part of a larger project that Dub Trinity has undertaken to honour their musical and lyrical roots, The Valley and the Lowlands covers songs from the region cradled by the Ottawa and St. Lawrence Rivers, imbuing them with sounds and rhythms that lend new direction, feeling, and meaning.
Produced by Dub Trinity and James McKenty, the EP is an eclectic blend of the traditional and experimental, grafting songs from some of the area’s most beloved folk, roots, and rock performers to a palate of sonic textures from around the world.
With its shuffling rhythm, opening track “You Don’t Have to Play the Horses” reminds you that Dub Trinity is, first and foremost, a reggae and dub band, before pulling the listener into unlikely new directions. Electronic keys flutter, singer Rob Wilkes’s vocal cadence conjures Desire-era Dylan, and hints of slide guitar nod to the Bruce Cockburn original, which was awash in dobro. It’s a roots/reggae hybrid that sets the tone for the set that follows.
Elsewhere on the EP, Cockburn’s material gets another chance to shine. “Waiting for a Miracle” starts off ska before being cracked wide open with Hammond-style organ, punctuating guitar chords, and heaven-sent “ooh-ahh” backing vocals.
“Anywhere on this Road” covers the most stylistic ground on the album. The Lhasa De Sela cover features a world of percussion (darabuka, kenkeni, djembe, and congas), an accordion drone, western harmonies, and old-world-meets-new-world fiddle. The resulting sound falls somewhere between a lumber camp and Roma campfire and is utterly, breathtakingly unique.
With its syncopated drums, stuttering, swaggering bass, and layers of keyboard, Dub Trinity twists the Tragically Hip’s “Grace, Too” into 1990s funk rock/psychedelic soul, before offering up a pastoral guitar solo that ends the EP with the colour and warmth a Kingston summer sunset.
Those looking for grooves will find it in this set of songs – Dub Trinity are known for packing dance floors, after all. But those looking to explore both the Eastern Ontario cultural landscape and the further frontiers of musical fusion will also be delighted. This is music for both the body and mind. And a highlight of their catalog.
About the Band:
Dub Trinity deliver message-based music of solidarity that transcends both borders and genres; true folk music. Rooted in dub reggae and ska, the band has made a career of incorporating diverse elements into their eclectic sound, from activist funk to revolutionary R&B.
Made up of veterans of the Canadian music scene, Dub Trinity has many influences. Band members have been a part of outfits ranging from the Cheap Suits to the Conestokers to the Silver Hearts – and yet they hold an iconic position of their own. After almost 20 years of making music, there is still no one else like Dub Trinity.