Graham Wright – The Lakes of Alberta

A lovelorn concept album, an affair that traced the rocky mountains and the low roads around Medicine Hat haunts 17 years after it ended. What is the feeling that haunts the narrator, the listener? Nostalgia for the intensity of fast love? Regret for what could have been? I feel the yank and tear of decisive action: that he made memories vivid enough to haunt his hotel beds almost two decades later. That he asks this lover to leave her husband and family, drive into the expansive prairie night.

The album’s structure is so essential, placing us in the present (the EP was released in 2008; five years later, has our narrator reconciled with his past?) with a kind of resolution, before dragging us into a hotel room, drinking, drowning in memories. The album is almost over before we are swept up by the affair of “The Lakes of Alberta, Pt 1.” In that way, the happiest, calmest part of the record acts as a climax, and the conflict is never more important to the narrative. His anguish is a function of his memory that lends a sense of impending doom to the relationship, and provides denouement as he (surely doomed to sobriety) aims his car toward the doorway of an old flame.

This is a surprising offering from Graham Wright, a member of Tokyo Police Club. Well written, well structured, and a record I keep coming back to.

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