Home Read Albums Of The Week: Grievous Angels | Last Call For Cinderella

Albums Of The Week: Grievous Angels | Last Call For Cinderella

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Many musicians talk the talk when it comes to social justice messaging in their songs, but few walk the walk like Grievous Angels have for close to four decades. Of course, maintaining that reputation helps when co-founder and principle songwriter Charlie Angus has been an NDP Member of Parliament since 2004, representing the riding of Timmins-James Bay. But Grievous Angels have always been, and continue to be, a collective unit dedicated to carving out a unique place within the alternative country and folk worlds with songs and live performances that reflect the tragic beauty of life in Canada’s blue collar northern frontier.

The band’s current seven-piece lineup returns with Last Call For Cinderella — the followup to 2021’s Summer Before The Storm and a 10-song collection that presents a fragile picture of the growing dissonance and fear permeating this moment in history. That notion is fully captured on the album’s first single This Is How The City Falls,”written by Angus in the aftermath of 2022’s month-long convoy occupation of downtown Ottawa, during which Canada’s normally quiet capital was thrown into chaos by a conspiracy theory-fuelled mob.

As an artist who has followed in the footsteps of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Strummer and Billy Bragg, Angus remains unflinching in his observations of modern society, as heard on Last Call For Cinderella’s standout tracks like Sleepwalking and I Could Tell. Other songs run the gamut of emotions, like the poignant ballad Close Your Eyes and the unexpectedly funky Litany Of The Saints, co-written by Angus’s old Toronto pal and Broken Social Scene member Jason Collett.

Photo by Paul Rincon.

Grievous Angels’ sound has been evolving through the band’s other voices: Janet Mercier and Alexandra Bell, who are prominently featured on the anthemic Barcelona I’ll Be Free and Friday Night, the story of two lovers coping with addiction. Musical growth is likewise displayed on The Bells Of Pontecorvo, a tribute to Canadian soldiers who helped liberate the titular Italian city during the Second World War, and J’ai Passé la Nuit (sur la cord de ling), the Angels’ first song in French. But for Angus, the track that best sums up the album is The Last Wedding Band, which he describes as Grievous Angels’ story condensed into a few minutes.

As The Last Wedding Band suggests, sticking to their mission has certainly not set the band on the path to fame and fortune, but it has earned them the respect of artists from coast to coast, along with some perks such as recording Last Call For Cinderella at Toronto’s Canterbury Music Company with veteran Grammy-nominated engineer Jeremy Darby. With his expert hand at the controls, the band blazed through four hot days of live-off-the-floor sessions in July 2023, with the sweaty interplay clearly evident throughout the record.

Call it a soundtrack in a time of climate crisis, disinformation and economic insecurity, Last Call For Cinderella is the latest pledge from Angus to be a voice for the voiceless, something he’s done since emerging from the Toronto punk scene in the early 1980s with the band L’Etranger. Following that group’s breakup, Angus worked with the homeless in downtown Toronto while forming Grievous Angels as a street busking project. The new band soon drew national attention through acclaimed albums such as 1990’s Juno-nominated One Job Town and 1996’s Waiting For The Cage.

Having played everywhere in Canada, from major folk festivals to picket lines, from touring with Stompin’ Tom Connors to performing for residential school survivors, Grievous Angels are a national treasure. And with Last Call For Cinderella, they prove that their country needs them now more than ever.”


Photo by Paul Rincon.