Great Big Sea – The Hard and the Easy (2005)
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The Hard and the Easy

Given that Great Big Sea’s music is divided between modern pop-folk and traditional songs from their native Newfoundland, it only makes sense that their audience is just as split; some fans, like yours truly, are partial to their tender ballads (like “Feel It Turn” or “Boston and St. John’s”) and fist-pumping feelgood anthems (like “Ordinary Day” and “When I Am King”). The others have been waiting years for an album like The Hard and the Easy.

I don’t begrudge them their wish, but all the same, thirteen songs’ worth of old sailor music just isn’t as compelling to me as the unique blend of ancient and new that GBS brings to their other stuff. While I can’t get “Come and I Will Sing You (The Twelve Apostles)” (download) out of my head, and would never turn down a filthy limerick like “The Mermaid” (download), once you’ve heard a few sea shanties, you’ve sort of heard them all. Perhaps if I had some salt in my beard, I would feel differently.

I feel obliged to point out — given the lukewarm nature of this review — that Great Big Sea is absolutely one of the best bands I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing perform live. If you have the opportunity to see them play, you need to take it.