Hailing from Winnipeg, House of Doc’s third album East of West celebrates love, life, and Canadian sensibilities in a lighthearted, amusing fashion.
Upbeat, folksy and altogether jovial, this album provokes the sunnier side of everything mundane and shifts the emphasis to family life, escaping the plight of urban noise and reverting to a frugal, simple sound. This feeling is furthered by the familial relation between the members; the group is made up of Matthew Harder, his wife Rebecca and her brother, Dan Wiebe. At first listen, one cannot help but draw parallels to the soundtrack to film O Brother, Where Art Thou, but a version more preoccupied by Canadian landscape. Tracks like “Summerstone” and “Milk and Cookies” are brimming with an optimism that can only be backed by the sounds of harmonicas and banjos. However, the album as a whole is more profound; in particular, “Simple Times” is a song recorded in one single and immaculate take.
Flanked by stripped down, lyrical tunes, East of West has an honest, human quality about it that is only truly appreciated by the humbled. Rebecca Harder croons hypnotically in “Lullaby,” giving it a soulful and melodic contrast to some of their more upbeat, bluegrass tracks. Also, the final track brings the album full circle with a secret song that is definitely worth the wait.