On August 23, 2006, I had the privilege of hearing the Sons of Maxwell at the Festival of Lights in Peterborough, Ontario. It was a drizzly evening but a large crowd was in attendance to enjoy this excellent band. My feet were happy as soon as I hit the concert field. The band was playing "So Confusing" from the "Among the Living" album, a lively, very danceable tune with lyrics that could have been written for a star-crossed seeker/ broken-hearted dreamer like me.
The Sons of Maxwell are billed as a Celtic band. They have a strong East Coast sound reminiscent of The Rankins meeting The Gin Blossoms, a very appealing, catchy, Celtic Country Rock. They won an ECMA award this year for their eighth full length recording, "Sunday Morning", as the Country Recording of the Year, . Originally from Timmins, Ontario, the band relocated to Halifax, Nova Scotia and have carved a place for themselves in the outstanding East Coast music scene in Canada, building up a loyal fan base.
"Among the Living" was recorded in the year 2000 and is the first recording in which all the songwriting was done by Dave Carroll. He also produced "Mile A Minute" with the rest of the production credits, and some of the musicianship, being shared by Tim Feswick and Jon Park Wheeler. Dave and his brother, Don, combine their considerable vocal talents as the Sons of Maxwell. We enjoy the benefit of harmonies that only brothers can create. They are backed by an excellent band and, from what I can gather, these musicians have managed to stay together for a while. The Carroll brothers named the band in honour of their Father, Maxwell. The strong love of family is expressed often in the music on this CD and in their live performance. There is a Mom of Maxwell's Sons too and she runs the General Store:
General Store and Mailing Address
S.O.M Entertainment Inc.
c/o Mom Carroll
1851 Cherryhill Rd
The touching and beautiful tribute to Abigail, "Hold On", was written for their grandparents (I think I have the story right) when their Grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease. This song was recognized by the Canadian Alzheimer's Society for its profound message. "Mile a Minute" is the most sensitive and articulate love song I have ever heard. This song is written from a man's perspective and it makes me wonder if men really can feel that kind of love for a woman. It gives me hope that such love is a possibility. "Easy Come, Easy, Go" is a song that etches the range of emotions one goes through after we have failed at a relationship - the ultimate bad report card. "Working Man" is a tribute to a hardworking Father ( the men I know identify with this song very strongly). "Lady for L.A." is a story of the unattainable woman that men are always seeking. "The 5:07" is a song of leaving someone behind but hoping that they will ask you stay even if you know you can't. It seems like he is leaving because of misplaced loyalty and obligation knowing that he is going to feel regret for his choice.
"Burning Bridges" is a powerful song about not following the pack or the road most travelled. It reminds us how easily people get caught up in following in other people's footprints, worrying about what "they" think, or doing what others think we should do instead of embracing our individuality. The title track, "Among the Living", is a beautiful anthem telling us that life is a journey, full of ups and downs but reminds us to always take our place among the living, "When the Circus Comes to Town" is an exuberant tale of a family reunion, "Get It Jumping" is a very upbeat, just get up and party song. "Mrs. Stanley" is a tribute song as well, I am inclined to think it must be an old neighbour or a teacher, someone who was kind in the past.
The night of the concert they had all of their recordings on sale but, as usual, I was poor so I chose "Among the Living". Other Sons of Maxwell CD's available are "Bold Frontier" from 1994; "Live at Tim's House" 1998; "The Neighbourhood" 1998; "Sailor's Story" 2000; "Instant Christmas" 2001 and "Sunday Morning" 2004. You can order past and current albums as well as a DVD from their online
webstore. Listen to samples of their music by visiting here. Booking information, appearance schedules and biographical information is also available at their bilingual website.
The whole feeling I get from this album is that you can't stand looking at the past with your back to the future. Life goes on and we owe it to ourselves to be the best that we can be, come what may Dave Carroll is an extraordinary songwriter, carefully sculpting his songs to express the deep, universal themes that we will all experience as we navigate life. My favourite tracks are "So Confusing", "Mile A Minute" and "Burning Bridges" but the whole album flows together beautifully. The sound is rich, comforting and full of grace and insight. The Sons of Maxwell are going to go far. I look forward to seeing them again the next time they play in my area. The best part, they are Tarot friendly. You just gotta love it......