The Dreadnoughts - Into the North (Cover Artwork)

The Dreadnoughts

Into the North (2019)

Stomp Records

Vancouver, British Columbia-based folk-punkers the Dreadnoughts are breathing new life into traditional sea shanties as well as creating new compositions that will no doubt be sung loud soon in pubs everywhere on Into the North.

The Dreadnoughts stay true to the original versions of the sea shanties they cover, playing traditional arrangements with traditional instruments and lyrics that creates a feeling of being on a boat or in a pub back in the day. With this being said no song on Into the North sounds stale or overly traditional, just the opposite. They play as if they are infused with the lively spirit of the seas and you can feel the dedication that they have to keep history alive while also creating something new that will stand the test of time. They have created a perfect blend of old and new, traditional and punk, that will make anyone pause to listen to the stories they are telling and will have most singing along to the choruses within seconds.

The Dreadnoughts use a wide range of instruments to achieve their unique sound with an accordion, fiddles, mandolin and acoustic guitar coming together in different variations over deep, sometimes ancient sounding percussion. Each song is different in the instruments that are featured, making them not only feel more authentic but also keeping you on the edge of your seat waiting to hear what the tone of the next song will be. Some songs feature only a bass drum such as “Fire Marengo” while others feature polka-esque accordion as heard on “Shiloh” while “Harper’s Folly / Bonny Kate” is a bright, beautiful instrumental piece that features, among other instruments, the fiddle.

There is a renewed focus on vocals and lyrics on Into the North. The lead vocals are strong and clear, standing alone until joined by the band for melodic, powerful gang vocals that invoke images of a group of sailors singing together. The vocals showcase range with notes that move seamlessly up and down, sometimes with a hint of vibrato and grit. The vocals are able to carry songs on their own with great melody and depth, showcasing their range.

On original “Dear Old Stan”, the Dreadnoughts pay tribute to the man who set the band in motion, Stan Rogers. Stan Rogers was a Canadian folk musician who was known for singing songs inspired by important events in Canadian history, with many songs revolving around maritime themes and the lives of working people. The song uses accordion and is sung in sea shanty fashion. The lyrics implore you to search out Stan Rogers’ music to keep his voice and name alive as the Dreadnoughts and many others would not be around or creating the wonderful music they do without the influence of Stan Rogers. After this touching tribute in their own words, the Dreadnoughts go on to cover one of Stan Rogers’ most well-known songs, “Northwest Passage”. A fitting tribute to him in his own words, as well as introducing many who have not heard of Stan Rogers to his music.

Into the North is full of passion, history, fun and the blending of past and present. There is so much energy contained in this record, both from the Dreadnoughts and the ones who came before. They are able to put their own spin on traditional songs without losing the story and exposing a new generation to a style of playing that they may not be aware of. The Dreadnoughts bring life and energy into the past and create immersive, visual music that transports you to wherever (or whenever) they are singing about. Into the North is more than an album, it is an experience that should not be missed.