The Bombadils’ new album, New Shoes, shows what all the buzz is about

For a hi-rez image, right click the photo and select "save target as" or your browser's equivalent.

For a hi-rez image, right click the photo and select “save target as” or your browser’s equivalent.

New Shoes releases Sept. 9
Album launch dates:
Sept. 8 – Elmira Theatre Company, Woolwich, ON
Oct. 6 – The Hive Centre, Clarington, ON
Oct. 7 – The Cameron House, Toronto, ON
Oct. 9 – Midland Cultural Centre, Midland, ON
Oct 13 – Edmonton, AB – Cafe Blackbird
Oct. 14 – Calgary Folk Club, Calgary, AB
Oct 15 – Duchess, AB – Red Roof Studio
Oct. 20 – Folk Music Ontario Conference, Ottawa, ON

Founded by an adventurous duo of Montreal music students who love the raw, organic authenticity of old folk and bluegrass, the Bombadils have over the past two or three years become one of those acts everyone seems to be taking about.
“This was the band that came out of nowhere and slayed the audience,” said Liz Scott of the Eaglewood Folk Festival.

“All the elements of a great band,” declared Canadian Folk Music Magazine.

“A breath of fresh air,” said Penguin Eggs.

On their new album, New Shoes (Borealis), Luke Fraser and Sarah Frank – partners in music and in life – demonstrate what all the fuss is about.

It’s a glorious album featuring haunting harmonies; fabulous fretwork on banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle; all kinds of innovative embellishments from jazzy flute and clarinet lines to pulsating cello and subtle bagpipes; and two vocalists whose distinctive styles light up the recording.

Luke’s earthy, unadorned voice adds a touch of grit, while Sarah’s beautiful soprano, almost flute-like in its purity and dexterity, floats and dances above the arrangements.

The songs on New Shoes betray its creators’ extensive musical training, endless stylistic curiosity and love of music as a force for community-building – to say nothing of their love of the road.

Sarah wrote “The Fountain” from a friend’s journal entry about travelling in Europe. It’s a beautiful opener for the album, marked by sweet fiddle and charming harmonies.

“Train in the Night” is a nostalgic rhythm-guitar-driven number inspired by the duo’s mutual memories of growing up near railroad tracks.

“Mint Condition” was written by a Nashville-based writer friend named Caroline Spence – and performed by another friend at Sarah and Luke’s wedding reception.

“Lone Journey” is a classically-tinged arrangement of a tune by Doc Watson and his wife, Rosa Lee, that reflects on the death of a long-time partner – a song that resonated with Luke and Sarah as a young couple.

And “The Scroll’s Return” was gifted to the duo by Sudbury fiddler Duncan Cameron who has a collection of fiddle tunes written specially for other musicians to borrow from. It features bagpipes by Spencer Murray, an old friend of

Sarah’s and one of many members of the duo’s musical community that joins them on the record.

Other guests who stopped by the Bowen Island, B.C. recording sessions include omnipresent Vancouver Island instrumentalist Oliver Swain, CFMA nominee Sarah Jane Scouten, WCMA winner Trent Freeman (of the Fretless), Juno winner Jayme Stone, and cellist Kaitlyn Raitz – who’s been touring with the Bombadils for the past year.

The album was produced by two more musical friends: James Perrella and partner Julia Graff, the daughter of Juno-winner and B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame member Shari Ulrich.

This collective approach to creation has been part of the Bombadils ever since its beginnings in 2009 as a loose-knit group of McGill music students who got together to play Irish pub tunes on evenings and weekends.

The duo of Sarah and Luke remain at the core of the group, accompanied on tour and on record by an ever-evolving chamber ensemble of musical friends.

Originally from Edmonton, Sarah grew up studying classical violin but fell in love with the sound of the fiddle.
Luke grew up near Halifax, where his parents weaned him on the music of Stan Rogers and the Rankins, but he chose to pursue post-secondary studies in classical music to give him a strong musical foundation.

By day, the pair studied classical composition and performance. By night, they joined friends playing jazz, folk, bluegrass and old-time music at venues around the city.

Almost as soon as they graduated, they immersed themselves in writing songs – this time focusing on lyrics as much as melodies.

A debut album was released in 2012, followed by 2015’s Grassy Roads, Wandering Feet.

Folk Words wrote of it, “The tunes memorable, the melodies exquisite. The whole is a living, breathing experience.”
FATEA called it “a really delightful record, soaked through with duly dextrous, truly symbiotic musicianship that’s the province of closely-knit young people who’ve grown their music together.”

With the release of New Shoes, chances are, many more critics and fans will get turned on to that tight-knit musicianship – and those truly divine melodies and tunes.

Leave a Reply