Over the years the members of National Divide have played in dozens of bands in their hometown of Edmonton, Alberta, exploring every style from punk to jazz to heavy metal. In the last several years, though, they’ve found themselves inexorably pulled back to an even earlier time, drawn to the kind of country-based Canadiana that dominated their parents’ record collections in the 70’s and 80’s. Their music is deeply infused with their northern prairie roots. Their first release, under their former name The Plain Dealers, hit top-10 on campus and community national charts and was hailed by legendary music critic Chuck Eddy as “Northern Exposure country rock… a great EP, one of the best cdbaby releases I’ve heard this year.” Since those early songs they’ve grown to embrace more modern elements in their sound, incorporating hints of synthesizers, loops and drum machines that enhance but never overwhelm. It’s an organic sound that arose by rejecting any effort to fit into a genre.
All of the songs on National Divide’s latest release, “February”, were written in a two-week session the band spent during one of the coldest winters in Edmonton’s history. It’s an album firmly rooted in its time and place; a tribute to the hard winters they all love in a way that only those who grew up on the prairies could. From the tremolo guitars and lush harmonies of “Trust Me” to the lonely lament of “Illinois”, it spans a range of emotions and sounds. The words express a tragic longing but the music says that everything is going to be alright.