Written by: Laura Melvin
East-coasters The Trews’ latest disc, Friends and Total Strangers is an energetic, acoustic live album that emphasizes the band’s Maritime roots. With predominant accordion layered into several tracks, folksy guitar creating a down-home feel, and lead singer Colin MacDonald’s unmistakable vocals, The Trews proudly bring a little of their hometown Antigonish, Nova Scotia to the live show recorded in Toronto for this album.
The album features Trews tracks from their previous three albums: 2008’s No Time For Later, 2005’s Den of Thieves, and 2004’s House of Ill Fame. Of course, the live recording includes The Trews biggest hits like “Poor Ol’ Broken Hearted Me”, “Tired of Waiting”, and “So She’s Leaving”, all sing-along tracks that sound best when karaoke’d with copious amounts of beer. But there are also lesser-known tracks that are just as infectious and sing-along worthy, such as the drinking-song inspired “Ishmael & Maggie” and the previously unreleased “Locked Doors”.
There’s something about a live disc that automatically makes it stand out from a typical, studio mastered album. With The Trews’ Friends and Total Strangers, we hear all the tracks we know and love from their previous albums, but we hear them in their rarest form. The songs heard at a live show are never the same as you hear on a regular album. The band is free to improvise; they throw in new guitar riffs; they play with vocal arrangements; they incorporate new instruments. We hear the crowd sing along with the band. This excellent 16-track, hour long acoustic album definitely brings The Trews live show home.