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Yardsale | Sweet Pea (Grin Like A Dog)
Yardsale's sophomore release 'Sweet Pea' is, simply put, another classic example of the flood of extraordinary roots talent gushing from Canada at present, and Vancouver in particular. Another home-recorded collection of sprightly country-pop produced by Flophouse Jr's Jon Wood ?? firmly established as the city's Steve Albini ?? this is notable particularly in that, despite it's foot-tappin', head-bobbin' rhythmic flow, there is not a drum kit in sight. Just as when Prince used no bass on Little Red Corvette, and you didn't really notice until someone pointed it out, such is the case with this kit-less project. There is light percussion courtesy of a shaker, suitcase, screwdriver set and, er, 'fussing about in the kitchen', underpinning the choppy acoustic riffs and smooth vocal of Steve Mitchell and spectacular banjo picking of Cam Salay, but no tom or snare. Mitchell is another figure of import in the Van acoustic roots scene, having created the now legendary weekly open sessions at The South Hill Candy Shop, a bar previously totally bereft of live music. As with Auburn's Shelley Campbell's R.A.N.C.H. set up, these evenings provided a launch pad for a great many acts now know nationally, and in a few cases, internationally. Never Work In This Town Again provides a glimpse of the problems faced by Mitchell in holding down residencies or gaining shows in the city, and like the remaining 11 tracks, is a short and concise ditty, with not a note or breath wasted. 'Sweet Pea' is peppered with western lyrical imagery ?? desert dust and canyon haze, horned toads and big-ass trucks, sage brush and Gram on the stereo ?? but it is the sexy love song You Stir Me, and the title track which steal the lyrical thunder. The former contains the wonderfully veiled naughtiness verse, "You surround me / and your hair falls all around me / zipper down back of your dress / pull you against my chest / you surround me." Phwoar! Sweet Pea is amongst the most shattering jealousy songs I've ever heard ?? "Did you drive this way with him? / Did he sing to you when the radio died? / Did every bend bring to light some kind of gem? / Did his hand lie upon your thigh?" Squirm! With hints of Tandy and James Jewell, Yardsale have produced a fine album that should ensure they will be following their friends to these country-hungry shores before long.

Tom Sheriff
CWAS #11 - Autumn 2002