Story by Kris Ketonen, Photo by Gaëlle Legrand

When Great Lake Swimmers return to Thunder Bay this month, they’ll be bringing with them not only a new album, but also a refined sound.

The band’s new album The Waves, The Wake (released on August 17) marks a bit of a departure for the group, singer-songwriter Tony Dekker says. “The idea was to take a more minimalist approach. Instead of having a regular backing band like we’ve had on the past couple records, we just listened very closely to what each song was asking for, and approached the recording that way.”

By way of example, Dekker offers up the album’s leadoff track, “The Talking Wind.” The song “is sort of about the wind, and so we thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if it was just a whole woodwind arrangement, with just clarinets and flutes and that kind of thing,’” he says. “So that was kind of the approach that we took.”

In fact, Dekker tried to play the acoustic guitar as little as possible during the recording of the album, aiming instead to branch out musically as much as possible. “It added a whole new dimension to me, and I’m not sure where it’s going to go next,” he says. “But I feel like maybe we might have turned a little corner with this, and I’m already excited for the next thing, and I think we can maybe even take it a little further.”

He says he’s not worried about the band’s sound changing too much. Despite the new arrangements and instruments, The Waves, The Wake is still a Great Lake Swimmers album. “I think when people hear this, they’ll still recognize it as a pretty familiar tone,” Dekker says. “It’s not like we made an electronic album, or suddenly made a rock album or a metal album. It still has very much the same tone as the Great Lake Swimmers albums of the past. I feel like we’ve really expanded the palette.”

Check them out this month
September 27