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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-16-09

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Port Cities need you!

PORT Cities will be travelling around the UK visiting Port Cities including Liverpool and recording:- 'Postcards from Port Cities' along the way. Inspired by a recent trip to Brighton where they filmed a performance in front of the iconic Pier, they aim to film a different song at similar locations around the country. Port Cities are asking local residents to suggest their favourite view of their City that best encapsulates their hometown and then join them for the filming. The aim is to film on or around 29 September 2017.

A Port City is a place where cultures and histories collide, where goods and ideas are imported and absorbed into the local bloodstream. Not entirely un-coincidentally, Port Cities the band is the musical equivalent; a melting pot of 3 of Canada's most creative individual talents, drawn together to make an entity even more outstanding as a group than as its constituent parts.

As with any form of musical collaboration, the magic occurs in the blending of 1 element with another, but unlike most groups, Port Cities never started out to be a band .

Comprised of trio of celebrated Nova Scotian musicians Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro and Breagh MacKinnon, Port Cities were drawn together through song writing as independent artists, with every intention of crafting new material, and then going their separate ways. Yet that is not quite how it panned out.

"We 1st crossed paths back in 2011 on a songwriting workshop... We came in as 3 individuals in amongst a host of others, but somehow we were drawn towards one another and it set in motion a chain of events whereby our paths became almost inextricably intertwined. Like moths to the flame!"
recalls Stone.

That initial meeting would eventually lead to triple bill tour in 2014 that, MacKinnon recalls:- "By the end it had more of a band feel than 3 musicians performing separately. It was just magic when we sang together. Shortly after, we made it official and started the band."

The 1st thing anyone observes when hearing Port Cities is that this band is tight. Seriously tight. Yet it begs the question; How to go about fusing divergent styles and experiences into such a singular rootsy Americana sound? From MacKinnon's silky jazz schooled timbre, allied to Gutho's R&B influenced natural tendencies and Stone's acoustic troubadour, the space in between the 3 is delightfully warm and resonant, yet entirely coherent across the course of their self titled debut album.

Nevertheless, as is so often the way with the most interesting song writing, beneath the sweetness of the vocal harmonies lies much more complex, and often darker lyrical sentiments, recurring throughout the album. The heart racing stomp of:- "Back To The Bottom" goes some way towards disguising much deeper emotional undercurrents, whilst the intimations of infidelity tucked into the relaxed country rock lilt of:- "On the Nights You Stay Home" cut through on first listen. Whilst:- "Don't Say You Love Me" was conceived amongst the history laden walls of Germany's infamous Colditz Castle, even on the album's most ebullient tracks, nothing is as it seems on the surface, the gentle Afro pop groove of:- "How to Lose You" coaxes the tension out of a love song that's consumed with the possibility of loneliness:- "The Out" is a disco kissed break up song perfect for dancing on your own.

As Stone explains:- "1 thing we all seem to connect with lyrically is showing a less than perfect idea of love, and not being scared to talk about how everything is not great, or call out a lot of what normal, traditional love songs would be about."

Port Cities the album is a perfect balance of Nashville (where much of it was recorded) and Nova Scotia (where the band reside); of the rustic and atmospheric, of indie intimacy and the sort of arena pop anthems that betray Port Cities' globe trotting ambitions; 2017 sees the band embark upon their second cross Canadian and European tours. Such ambition does not prevent moments of delicate musical insight though; the album closes with the desolate ambient ballad:- "Astronaut," a song that invokes outer space imagery only to send us crashing back down to Earth, contrasting childhood dreams of interstellar exploration with the harsh, hopeless realities of navigating adult life.

It's a fitting finale for an album that's nestled in the minimal space between familiar and foreign, pairing sounds that comfort with lyrics that confront. Because that's the thing about living in a Port City,,, the place you call home is also a gateway into the great unknown and, at any moment, that scenic, open water vista can give way to crashing waves and fierce undertows.


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Southport Reporter (R) Bourder




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