Like Cowboy Junkies and Iron & Wine, Great Lake Swimmers made such a strong impression with their atmospheric, minimalist early songs that it’s been easy to underestimate how good the band became once it started filling out their sound. In the mid-’00s, Tony Dekker’s band of Canadian folkies caught fans of soft indie music by surprise with the song “Moving Pictures, Silent Films,” a soft, echoing ballad that hung wispily, like mist over a mountain brook. But with 2009’s more muscular Lost Channels and now Great Lake Swimmers’ fifth LP, New Wild Everywhere, Dekker has been proving that there are more ways to spin a mood than just recording every song at a hush.
Sounding at times like a more lush, polished Will Oldham (or like Lambchop served with a thick hunk of Bread), New Wild Everywhere favors medium tempos over slow drip, and a rich weave of strings, acoustic picking, and airy harmonies over sparseness. Granted, the sounds don’t always hold up to intense scrutiny. Great Lake Swimmers’ mix of clean, ’70s-style country rock with Old World European grace is never less than inviting, and it becomes downright sublime on the swaying, pulsing “Think That You Might Be Wrong,” where a cowboy waltz meets low-boil R&B, male and female voices intertwine, and elegantly swooping strings and fuzztone guitar enter into a conversation that’s bound to end in accord. — The A.V. Club