Multiple award-winning band Emerson Drive, comprised of Brad Mates (lead vocals), Danick Dupelle (guitars and backing vocals), Mike Melancon (drums), Dale Wallace (keyboards and backing vocals), and David Pichette (fiddle), got their start in Alberta after winning a local Battle of the Bands contest. With their boyish good looks and roguish charm, it’s easy to forget th
staffa_2at this band has been winning awards for nine years already, and has now just come out with a Greatest Hits album, titled Decade of Drive.
First, the good: “Moments,” a heart-wrenching tale sung from the point of view of a homeless man, won the Canadian Country Music Association’s “CMT Music Video of the Year ” and “Single of theYear,” the Inspirational Country Music Awards’ “Video of the Year,” as well as a nomination from the Country Music Association for “Music Video of the Year,” following its initial release in 2007. I believe it earned every single one of those nominations and awards, and while a video has nothing to do with an album review, the song contains some of the most poignant lyrics I’ve ever heard.
Now, the lead single from the band’s previous album, “When I See You Again,” which was written as a tribute to former member Patrick Bourque, who committed suicide in 2007, is building up similar expectations. The true sense of loss really comes across in the song, with lyrics such as, “I wonder how you are/What you’re doing way up there/Are you laughing or are you crying/Cause you miss us all down here.”
That said…. I was a little disappointed with some of the songs on the CD. I skipped past “November” after listening to it twice, because I disliked how the song veered past “touching” and landed squarely in “mopey/whiny.” I didn’t hate the slow “Belongs to You,” but I felt like it lacked the passion that I’d come to associate with Emerson Drive throughout the rest of the CD. Luckily I didn’t listen to the songs in order, because “November” and “Belongs to You” are back-to-back, and I think it would have clouded my favourablejudgement on the rest of the CD. I applaud the fact that Mates moved a little staffa_3out of his comfort zone in terms of the vocals on “November,” but it just really didn’t work for me.
Overall, though, the rest of the songs were solidly enjoyable. “Countrified Soul” and “Believe” were foot-tapping, upbeat country songs featuring some beautiful guitar work by Dupelle. “Should Be Sleeping” was your standard cute country break-up song with some beautiful harmonizing happening vocally, and I’ll admit that I got caught up in the spirit of “I Love This Road,” a solid song written in the grand tradition of open road songs. But where was “Fishin’ in the Dark,” a cute love song about a lazy day fishing with your love? As the first country song I can remember featuring a canon, I adore this song. This omission might have been my biggest disappointment in the album.
Personally, I…. like Decade of Drive. I don’t love it, but When Emerson Drive gets it right, they get it right. An obvious joie de vivre comes out with their songs, which is why I think they occasionally struggle with the slower, melancholy songs. With the blended vocal harmonies, and the keyboard and fiddle featured in the songs, subtle and appreciated enhancement to the songs are never lacking, and I have no doubt that Emerson Drive will continue their successful domestic and international careers.