Fans of Great Big Sea will be happy with their latest album, “Something Beautiful*,” as it is a great collection of new songs in the same style that has made them famous. The album is not a good example of growth in a band, but it stays true to their style and is a stronger album than their past releases.The album, which came out March 9 on this side of the border, has 11 new songs and two new arrangements of folk songs. The nice thing about this album is that it seems a bit more radio-friendly than their past releases, and there are a number of potential singles on this album, which might – hopefully – allow the band to get a little more U.S. airplay.To their followers, the obvious thing about “Beautiful” is that it sounds almost exactly like their other albums. Usually, people expect bands to grow musically as they mature, but while GBS’s music has gotten stronger, they haven’t really grown outward from the styles that they started with. This is good for those of us who have already been hooked, but it’s probably not going to grab a lot of new fans. Measured purely by the quality of their music, this is their best album yet. It is impossible to walk away from this album feeling anything but good about one’s self, and all the songs seem well polished without any noticeable flaws.One big difference on this album is the lack of references and language of Newfoundland. The band has gotten famous on their Newfoundland themes, but while the influence shows in the music it seems to be left out of the lyrics.The title track is probably the strongest all around, and it makes an obvious choice for a single. Among the other really strong songs are “Shines Right Through It,” which opens the album, and “Let it Go,” another of the band’s hopelessly, but infectiously, optimistic songs. “Lucky Me” is probably the album’s best crafted song, as it relies heavily on Bob Hallett’s well-played violin but avoids sounding too folksy for the average listener.The band seems to always be listed under the “Celtic” heading of music stores and online services, and while the band has shown impressions of Newfoundland’s Irish heritage in past songs, this label is not overly accurate. GBS did decide on this album, however, to completely play into the stereotype, breaking the folk/indie rock feeling of the first dozen songs to end with a very fun but very out-of-place arrangement of a celidh, a traditional Scottish accordian dance tune. Apart from this digression, however, the band has the same appeals it has always had. Their music seems like it could do well on mainstream radio, but without a new appeal the band is still unlikely to translate their Canadian success into the American big time.Brown can be reached at cbrown@campustimes.org.



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