Friday, November 14, 2014

The Rural Alberta Advantage at the Bowery Ballroom

Nils Edenloff and Amy Cole
Indie rock trio the Rural Alberta Advantage (also known as the RAA) came together in 2005 at an open stage in Toronto, Canada. A year later vocalist/guitarist Nils Edenloff, keyboardist Amy Cole and drummer Paul Banwatt released a self-titled EP and began performing a wider circuit. The band's third and most recent album, Mended with Gold, was released on September 30, 2014.

Headlining tonight the second of two nights at the Bowery Ballroom, the Rural Alberta Advantage proved that a Canadian trio perhaps could widen the Americana genre. Led by Edenloff's earnest, unpolished vocals and hard strums on the acoustic guitar, the band often sounded like a folk rock band. His heartfelt, plaintive lyrics pondered universal themes like love and loss, but with a backdrop noting the conditions and concerns of plain folk who experience long, cold winters. In many songs, the words were plentiful, but the easy-going melodies saved them from seeming excessive. Cole's keyboards charmingly magnified the melodies with an indie pop gloss, and Banwatt's energetic drummer gave the songs a driving rock flavor. The collaboration yielded cleverly-arranged music that was delivered with gritty integrity and plain-folk honesty. The band concluded the final encore, a bare bones acoustic "Good Night," by singing in the midst of the audience. By the end of the night a listener could have been convinced that indeed there are advantages to being a rural Albertan.

Visit the Rural Alberta Advantage at