Label: 112 Records
Album: Terms & Conditions
Tracks : 9
Orillia is the home to Canada's oldest and ongoing folk festival, Mariposa has seen some huge names from a multitude of genres grace it's stages, and Orillia just happens to be the birthplace of one of Canada's household names in the music industry, Gordon Lightfoot still makes regular visits to his home town, especially for the Mariposa Folk Festival, so the calibre of music that has and still does emanate from this small town in Southern Ontario is an indicator that something special happens around these parts.
VK are Steve and Marni Van Kessel, born and bred in the town, they've raised a family here, are part of the fabric of the community itself, and especially the music community. Terms & Conditions is the latest release by VK and a step up from their previous work. They've drawn on the small town charm and sense of community which has inspired the songwriting and music on the album, and, there is also the surrounding scenery of the area with the beautiful lakes and valleys that could not help but be inspirational. There is also an influence from the close proximity to the city of Toronto, which is a melting pot of culture, musical diversity and all round coolness, it's certainly lent it's experiences to this release
The songs on Terms & Conditions are intimate in their content, the instrumentation and harmonies compliment this creating a good listening experience, with violin, cello and steel pedal guitar added to the mix it has created a unique sound and direction for VK. Having the ability to work on this album in their home recording studio ( 112 Record Studio's ), afforded them the time to relax and record in a laid back atmosphere and focus on the lyrical content, and Steve has to be commended on the overall production, he has managed to capture the essence of some of his musical inspirations such as Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell with a nod to earlier influences like Neil Young's Harvest years.
' What Makes Sense ' is the first track on the album and is Steve's observations on some relationships he has witnessed that have failed, and the different reasons that have caused the break ups. The melancholic atmosphere of the instrumentation makes this track a stand out.
' Terms & Conditions ' another track of note is about love and the fact that all loving relationships start off in a magical free and flowing way, but after a period of time every relationship ends up having Terms & Conditions applied, whether that be with a lover, a child or a parent and it begs the answer to the question of how individuals allow those conditions to grow and influence the relationships.
VK have obviously worked hard on developing their sound, it sits somewhere between roots, americana, folk, singer / songwriter and fits comfortably within each genre, that is no mean feat. in itself, giving them a broad range of potential listeners who will enjoy this release.
These songs make you think deeply, Steve Van Kessel is a fabulous songwriter and has given much food for thought on this album, he cites a definitive moment when he heard Ian Tyson and Jim Cuddy ( Blue Rodeo ) perform at a songwriters event, he was inspired to lift his guitar up and begin to write again after many years of concentrating on providing for his family, it's a blessing to us that he did so, and that in Marni Van Kessel he has the perfect partner to provide the harmonies, enthusiasm and support for a project that we are only just scratching the surface of. With news that another release may soon be in the offing, do yourself a favour and get acquainted with the work of VK, it will not disappoint. There are Terms & Conditions on everything in life, this is the perfect album to sum all that up.