Glowing red hot out of the gate, Run The River make a great first impression with their five song debut.
Run The River have been having a lot of fun over the last several weeks sharing the news about their debut, The Shiftwork EP. Taking its name from the downtown Fredericton studio where these five tracks were recorded, members of the band have been posting regular video updates to social media for weeks now. They’ve shared themselves singing and dancing, practicing vocal lines and harmonies and listening to fresh takes as they are being recorded. While that’s all expected behaviour for any group looking to build a fan base, the members of Run The River seem genuinely excited about their band, their music and their friendship. And rightfully so. The chemistry evident on their debut EP is not exactly what you expect to hear from a new band just starting out.
Band-craft should always be the first major goal any new ensemble should be focused on establishing. The term relates to everything that makes a band work. From instrument tone to song structure and the all-important hive mind that allows musicians to take the occasional risk without worry of losing their bandmates somewhere along the way; it’s often this level of inner communication that separates one band from another. Usually associated with groups who have a few miles under their belt, Run The River appears to already have a lot of these elements dialed in with admirable confidence.
Across the five songs that make up The Shiftwork EP, the band establishes a sound rooted in rock but not afraid to embrace strong folk or pop elements along the way. Their music is tight and dynamic and full of subtle changes that contribute to each song’s progression and momentum. With songwriting and lyrics well placed at the forefront of the group’s sound, it is the subtlies on The Shiftwork EP that bring this collection to life. With bass and drums adding punch and occasional breathing room for guitar leads and piano voicings to effectively highlight openings in each song’s structure that all contribute to build and drive; each track on this release carries its own weight with astounding confidence.
It’s difficult to name a standout among these five songs. Using the EP format to great effect, each of the tracks on this release occupy their own space, never sounding like a reworking of something we already heard. And like the songs themselves, the EP builds to a satisfying climax with the closer, Moonlight Blues, an epic ballad-meets-full-blown rock anthem that comes perfectly packaged with one of life’s most important lessons: “If there’s one thing I’ve found, it’s that life isn’t fair, [but] you can’t keep on wishing that things will be different”.
If there is a flaw in this beautiful debut from one of the city’s most-promising new groups, I have yet to find it. After half a dozen listens today, I’m already looking forward to the next time I can sit down and enjoy what these five musicians have created together.
The Shiftwork EP was officially released August 4.