The Lucky Ones

REVIEW: The Lucky Ones bring Yukon hillbilly music to “Slow Dance, Square Dance, Barn Dance”


The Lucky Ones — Slow Dance, Square Dance, Barn Dance

You don’t normally think of the Yukon as a hotbed for musical acts. The Lucky Ones is a band with the distinction of hailing from the Yukon. It is a band whose sound is based largely in bluegrass and also the kind of music that has been performed in honky-tonks forever. The band’s debut self-titled album was released in 2020 and features a lot of mellow songs steeped in the tradition of sad country songs.

The new album Slow Dance, Square Dance, Barn Dance was recorded in four days at an Anglican cathedral in the Yukon. As the name implies, the songs are more suited for dancing than the debut album. Of the new album, the band said, “The songwriting on this album reflects more of the sound we’ve been leaning towards since making the first one. It’s more grounded and honest. We think that is a draw of this music; no frills, only honest old-time hillbilly music with a Yukon twist.”

You hear that no-frills approach in the opening track “Kate and Dan.” The arrangement is as stark as anything you hear from Townes Van Zandt. The story is also reminiscent of Van Zandt. Kate and Dan are a couple who do not have  a hard time finding trouble, in part because they look out for trouble like knocking off liquor stores. That is, until they are rounded up by some Mounties and hung by the baseball stands.

In keeping with the theme of dancing in the title of the album, “Fifth of You” is a song that will get you moving. Mind you, it’s not the most uptempo song you’ll ever hear. However, the bass line provides a steady rhythm while the banjo and the fiddle will get you looking for a partner to dance with. The lyrics of the song make for an instant sing-along. The narrator sings about being “drunk on missing you” while ordering round after round just like the person he is drinking to forget. It’s hard to keep still or silent when you hear this one.

If you want a good glimpse of the old-time hillbilly music the band talked about, “Down to My Bones” is the song for you. This is a bluegrass song that is a little more uptempo than some of the other songs on the album. The banjo, fiddle, and mandolin all play a prominent part in the melody. This one also adds harmonica on top of the bluegrass instrumentation. If there is a song that represents the barn dance aspect of the title, this is it.

At only 26 minutes, this album is over before you know it. But then, it’s not unusual for bluegrass songs to be short. Like most bluegrass albums (even the short ones), this one doesn’t need to be long to display the talent of the musicians. The members of the Lucky Ones will make you wish that you could pick half as well as they do. Slow Dance, Square Dance, Barn Dance is available everywhere now. Order your copy here.

Ian Smith – guitar, vocals
JD McCallen – guitar, vocals
Kieran Polle – fiddle, vocals
Jeff Dinely – bass
Ryan McNally – banjo, pedal steel
Aaron P. Burnie – banjo
Hayley Warden – upright bass
Akilena Jóhansson – accordion
Lane Dillman – backing vocals

Leave a Reply!