Imagine my surprise to discover Damhnait Doyle not only fronts a new band but they’ve been around for nearly a decade.
Damhnait is one of the biggest voices to ever come out of Newfoundland & Labrador. She had a string of solo hits nearly two decades and helped show the rest of the country there was more to Newfoundland than jiggs and reels. In 2003, she took a more pop-focused route, teaming up with fellow Newfoundlander Kim Stockwood and PEI’s Tara MacLean to form the trio Shaye. They released a pair of albums before parting ways toward the end of the decade.
The remnants of that group led to the formation of The Heartbroken. Doyle, along with former backing band members Blake Manning, Stuart Cameron and Peter Fusco, started jamming together and soon jumped all in, but where the music they recorded with Shaye was polished and pure, the music of The Heartbroken isn’t.
Storm Clouds is the band’s second release, arriving more than six years after their first. It’s a classic mix of folk rock and roots with a country flavour; raw, authentic and made for the stage. With the thumping intro of the title track, the record kicks off on the right note with a high-energy performance that carries into the second track with the snare-and-bass led Be Kind To Me. And it just gets better from there.
The hook of the heartbreaking Going To Hell digs deep and the build-up of Jealous pulls you right back up again, but it’s the resurgence of roots-rock across the record that shines brightest with the Tom Petty-esque Quiet River while Bullet may as well have been pulled out of a 1992 AOR playlist. To add to an already impressive lineup, Serena Ryder steps in on production duties on a pair of tracks, Tearing Me Up and One Way Way.
The disappointment of Storm Clouds is that it took me as long as it did to find out about it. Maybe that’s all on me – maybe not. This would have been a highlight on the inflated Canadian rock scene in the 90s, which further emphasizes how essential it is today when solid rock records are few and far between – or just that much harder to find.
While The Heartbroken might be done promoting it (they did a stint of publicity last fall, leading to a sold-out show at The Dakota Tavern in Toronto), a record this good shouldn’t be missed. Yes, add it to the list of essential albums of the 2010s.
1. Storm Clouds
2. Be Kind To Me
3. Going To Hell
4. Has Been
5. Tearing Me Up
7. Quiet River
8. Not My Home
9. One Way Out
11. Tonight It’s Just Me
12. Wings Last Fold