The Rural Alberta Advantage - The Rise & The Fall
“‘CANDU’ and ‘AB Bride’ find the Canadian trio in top form, bashing and rootsy and earnest.” – Stereogum
“Evoking a particular place without sounding insincere or exclusive is a tricky balance, and the Rural Alberta Advantage has always been able to pinpoint the centre of gravity, building nostalgia and lore for a town even if you’ve never been.” – CBC Music
The Rural Alberta Advantage (The RAA) have announced their fifth full-length album, The Rise & The Fall, for an October 6 release via Saddle Creek/Paper Bag Records. It is their first album in six years, and the first to feature the return of original band member, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Amy Cole alongside Paul Banwatt (drums) and Nils Edenloff (lead vocals, guitar, keyboard). In conjunction, the percussive folk-rock trio have shared the latest single from the 13-song collection, “Conductors,” a rousing pick me up track dedicated to the universal question of why we run from the things we love.
Needled by the band’s jokes that his songwriting could be expedited but going the route of AI, Edenloff took it as forced encouragement to face his writer’s block head on and finish “Conductors” the old fashioned way. In full disclosure though, Edenloff noted: “I did ask ChatGPT a couple of questions while working on this song and it let me know the health benefits of running, which wasn’t particularly groundbreaking. But when I really dug in and asked, ‘Why am I afraid of writing?’ it provided no answer.”
The video for “Conductors” was inspired by the work of director Adam Curtis. Edenloff added, “I’ve been a fan of Adam Curtis‘ documentaries for a while. I’m not sure if it’s the message, the archival footage or the soundtrack, or maybe it is a combination of the three, but there is something hypnotic and completely engrossing in his work that I love, and for me, it’s perfect to watch while on tour. Late last year when the world was getting swept up by ChatGPT and we were still spending a lot of time in the songwriting process, Paul took no lack of joy in needling me, constantly prompting it to create lyrics in the style of ‘The Rural Alberta Advantage’. I guess being perpetually reminded that you could be easily replaceable, and that your job could eventually be farmed out artificially brought to mind a lot of the themes in Curtis‘ documentaries and ‘HyperNormalisation’ especially.”
He concluded, “I can say with total honesty that none of the lyrics that Paul coaxed from the AI made it onto the record, nor did any of the lines particularly move me. So I guess for now, good old fashioned sweat, pen to paper inspiration still won the day for us.”
Earlier in 2023, The RAA wrapped up a tour of the East Coast of Canada and were talking to a fan after the show, who described their music in a very poignant way, recalled Edenloff. This fan said, “Your music makes me long for things I didn’t know that I longed for.” The Rise & The Fall completes the puzzle of song pieces that had been finding their way over the past few years. “Like a lot of us,” Edenloff continued, “after a closer look at what we assume to be familiar, true and unchanging to start something new.” It is 13 tracks. 6 previously unreleased songs. Including reality checks and exhaustion on “Real Life,” suffering stagnation on “Our Youth” and the overwhelming gratitude of “FSHG.”
“All of our music is rooted in a certain amount of heart and honesty. The songs themselves come from a very earnest place and they are really extensions of who we are. Sometimes we hide those emotions with a lot of noise and sonic energy, while other times we leave them raw and bare. I see our albums more as diary entries, or snapshots in time and this one certainly fits that bill,” adds Edenloff.
The Rise & The Fall is a culmination of navigating songwriting through forced Zoom meetings, trading files of song ideas over email, managing rehearsals in borrowed warehouses that allowed for more personal space, and proving that the specialness of the band and their songs could only be found with them all together in one room and especially on stage. Getting back to live performances across North America, one small tour leg at a time in 2022, gave The RAA back the chance to rework, cancel and perfect these new songs, and bring them back home into studios around Toronto for recording with Gavin Gardiner (Born Ruffians, The Wooden Sky, Evening Hymns). For the first time, the band focused on writing and recording a few songs at a time, taking their tradition of road testing new music to a whole new level of real-time collaboration with their fans.