For a new album that The Sheepdogs didn’t initially set out to make, Changing
Colours is a stunning achievement.
Proud purveyors of guitar-driven modern-day retro rock, the triple Juno
Award-winning Saskatoon-based quintet has expanded its sound on Changing
Colours to encompass more styles and hues to enhance the Sheepdogs’ trademark
beef-and-boogie twin-axe riffs, hooks, shuffles and long-haired aesthetic.
"We identify strongly with rock ‘n roll, but there’s definitely some
branching out," says Ewan Currie, The Sheepdogs’ singer, guitarist,
songwriter and occasional – and yes, you’re reading this correctly –
clarinetist. "The sounds we use on this – there’s more keyboards featuring
Shamus and more stringed instruments. It’s still rock ‘n roll but there are more
It’s also great, passionate music born out of spontaneity: first resonating in
the 17-song album’s euphoric opener "Nobody" and continuing to flavor such
invigorating numbers as the electrifying "Saturday Night" and the driving "I’ve
Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be," the record’s infectious first single. But
The Sheepdogs haven’t only stretched their sonic palate: they’ve also expanded
stylistically, tastefully embracing other genres as well. There’s the country-lite
feel of "Let It Roll," the Stax-soul aura of the mid-tempo anthem "I Ain’t Cool"
that features trombone — and the resplendent Latin-rock vibe that fuels "The Big
This is what occurs when The Sheepdogs are left to their own devices: when the
band completed its global responsibilities in promoting its fifth album, 2015’s
Future Nostalgia, the band took a busman’s holiday, renting Toronto’s Taurus
Studio and hiring its owner, Thomas D’Arcy, to engineer and co-produce whatever
emerged from their creative loins.
"It was very low key," says Currie. "We didn’t have a clock. We would
work until we were bored or tired. Then we would stop." Drummer Sam Corbett
said the music that eventually evolved into Changing Colours benefitted from the
relaxed approach. "Most of the records we’ve made have been under a short
time constraint," Corbett explains. "This one was done over six months,
with some songs sitting around for two months. Then we’d come back and try
different things, so I think that as a result, some of the songs took a
different shape. In some situations, there’s more of a ‘jamming’ feel because we
The Changing Colours sessions also marks the recording debut of the newest
Sheepdog: guitar wiz Jimmy Bowskill, parachuted into the lineup as a live,
last-minute replacement. "He joined us on tour, learned our whole set
basically in one rehearsal and has been with us ever since," says bass
player Ryan Gullen. "He gave us a new sensibility – he plays a bunch of
instruments as well – mandolin, steel, banjo and fiddle."
The band honours Bowskill’s addition with an instrumental tribute to his
Bailieboro, Ontario hometown in the folk-flavored "The Bailieboro Turnaround,"
part of a six-song medley that begins with "Born A Restless Man" and concludes
with "Run Baby Run." Medleys, in general, have become something of a Sheepdogs
signature. "We like having those medleys that run together at the end of the
album," says Currie.
As far as the songs themselves, Currie says Changing Colours songs like "Nobody"
to the one-two combo of "Cool Down" and "Kiss the Brass Ring" cover topics like
the freedom of a good road trip and compromises in the pursuit of success. But
the subject matter is never pre-planned. "I don’t know where my lyrics come
from," Currie confesses. "It’s sort of sub-conscious thing. I try not to
write deliberately. I’ve never been a guy who sits down and says, ‘okay, here’s
a subject I’m going to write about.’ It’s always been music first."
In the years since The Sheepdogs claimed Rolling Stone magazine’s one and
only Best Unsigned Band contest in 2011 – earning them a U.S. record deal
and a fervent endorsement from The Kings of Leon – the platinum-selling group
has tirelessly criss-crossed the planet.
Touring in support of critically acclaimed albums Learn & Burn, The Sheepdogs
and Future Nostalgia has only honed the band’s workhorse ethic, generating hits
like "I Don’t Know," the gold "Feeling Good" and "The Way It Is" along the way
and transforming them into a highly disciplined live attraction.
It’s a calling that they have never taken for granted. "We could never sit
back and rest on our laurels," notes Corbett.
Changing Colours is a testament of The Sheepdogs' never-ending desire to follow
their muse, become increasingly prolific and deliver thrilling evenings of
thundering, organic rock to their devoted audiences.
The rest just takes care of itself. "Do good work and the people will find
you," notes Ewan Currie. "Let the work speak for itself. That’s our big
• Double LP
• Music on 3 sides, 4th side blank
• Gatefold jacket
• For fans of: The Allman Brothers Band, The Band, My Morning Jacket
2. I've Got A Hole Where My Heart Should Be
3. Saturday Night
4. Let It Roll
5. The Big Nowhere Side Two:
1. I Ain't Cool
2. You Got To Be A Man
3. Cool Down
4. Kiss The Brass Ring
5. Cherries Jubilee
6. I'm Just Waiting For My Time Side Three:
I. Born A Restless Man
II. The Bailieboro Turnaround
III. Up In Canada
IV. H.M.S. Buffalo
V. Esprit Des Corps
VI. Run Baby Run