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First Play: The Long War, Landscapes

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Melody Lau

Last April, Vancouver band the Long War was crowned the winner of CBC Music’s Searchlight competition. The band's song entry, “Breathe In Breathe Out,” wowed judges and music fans alike with the Long War's poignant songwriting and gorgeous harmonies.

With the win, the band members admitted to feeling validated for their hard work, and said the achievement marked a “new bar for us.” Now, a year after taking home that title, the Long War has unlocked another level of success: releasing a debut album.

Landscapes expands on the sonic scenery the band first set with its winning single, which is included on this debut. Harmonies soar over folk-rock anthems, each one grounded in comforting imagery of Canada’s panoramic land. Throughout the album, singers Jarrett Lee and Chad Gilmour and bandmates Jessica Lee, Neil Williamson and Carson Webber evoke the beautiful sights of their homeland, whether they’re calling on the steady tides of the ocean on “Ocean Below” or the mountainous heights and serene green-blue glow of Alberta’s Lake Louise on the album’s closing number. Listeners will find comfort in these picturesque parts of the country, but beyond the guitar riffs and anthemic build-ups, each song also manages to emerge with a striking emotion or memory that bellows out.

On “Waiting on a Plane,” Lee closes with a yearning to “find my way back home,” and it’s clear that he and the band succeed, in a way, through their songs. Much like the roads that were paved by Canadian acts before them like the Weakerthans, Great Lake Swimmers and the Wooden Sky, the Long War has turned its surroundings into something that will surely warm the ears and hearts of Canadians.

More to explore:

'This is the new bar for us': the Long War wins Searchlight 2017

Watch the Long War compose a song for Canada 150

Searchlight 2018 winner: aquakultre