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First Play: Alanna Gurr and the Greatest State, Stand Still

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Tahiat Mahboob

Sultry nights around a bonfire. Long drives down a coastal road. Rainy evenings on the porch swing. Those are just some of the scenes that Stand Still, Alanna Gurr and the Greatest State’s new EP, conjures. Two albums and two EPs in, there is no mistaking this four-piece minimalist folk-rock band's sound: delicate, raspy vocals layered with bass, drums, guitar and pedal steels, all interjected sparingly.

Co-produced with bandmate Thomas Hammerton (Cuff the Duke, Odd Years, Minotaurs) and recorded, mixed and mastered by Andy Magoffin (Constantines, By Divine Right, the Hidden Cameras), Stand Still took over a year to make. The five-track EP has all the markings of a strong and thoughtful songwriter. Gurr, a piano tuner by day in and around Guelph, Ont., has penned five songs that run the gamut in matters of the heart. Sometimes simple, sometimes nuanced, the songs evoke a sense of nostalgia and, at times, melancholy. And when it comes to striking a balance with Gurr’s voice, her backing band the Greatest State knows just when to make its presence known.

While love is a recurring theme in the lyrics, “Fire & Bones,” the fourth track, is the actual love song of the collection. There’s something very simple and to-the-point about it. "This is a song about having a crush," Gurr says. "A sweet love song walking on the deciding line of whether to be true to your heart or not."

Stand Still will be released June 16 via Missed Connection Records. You can pre-order the album here. Alanna Gurr and the Greatest State will start touring on the album's release date.

Follow Tahiat Mahboob on Twitter: @tahiatmahboob