The Rise & The Fall is the fifth studio album from award winning, charged folk-rock trio The Rural Alberta Advantage. It is the first album featuring the return of original band member, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Amy Cole alongside Paul Banwatt (drums) and Nils Edenloff (lead vocals, guitar, keyboard).
Earlier this year, The RAA wrapped up a tour of the East Coast of Canada and were talking to a fan after the show, recalled Edenloff. “They said, ‘Your music makes me long for things I didn’t know I wanted.’” And that captures what I think we’re trying to do as a band.” The Rise & The Fall is 13 tracks, including songs from the band’s 2022 EP The Rise, as well as seven new songs, including the dreamy soundscapes of “Real Life,” synth-y singalongs of “Our Youth” and a live-off-the floor, one take recording of the heartfelt “FSHG.”
Says Amy Cole, “The last couple of years really tested us as a band, and made us ask ourselves: Why do we want to make music right now? And I think the answer is that, when the three of us get together, something happens that we now know is rare and special. We made this record so we can share this feeling and bring others into that experience with us.”
All of our music is rooted in a certain amount of heart and honesty. The songs themselves come from a very earnest place and they are really extensions of who we are. Sometimes we hide those emotions with a lot of noise and sonic energy, while other times we leave them raw and bare. I see our albums more as diary entries, or snapshots in time and this one certainly fits that bill, says Edenloff.
The Rise & The Fall is the product of the band’s navigating the pandemic and its aftermath: songwriting over Zoom meetings, collaborating on demos online, distanced rehearsals in borrowed warehouses, and never giving up on the hope that the day would finally come when the band could share new music on stage together again. Along with a few smaller tour runs in 2022, the band returned to the studio with Gavin Gardiner (Born Ruffians, The Wooden Sky, Evening Hymns). Piece by piece, they built The Rise, and are now excited to complete this chapter with the full-length culmination of this journey, The Rise & The Fall. The lead single from the 13-song collection, “Conductors,” is a rousing track dedicated to the universal question of why we run from the things we love.
Edenloff explains the genesis of the song: “There is so much I love about being in a band. But one of its most fundamental aspects causes me more mental anguish than anything else, and that’s actually writing songs. When I’m able to tune out the doubting voice in my head and get it done, there’s no greater feeling. But often the devil wins and it’s easier to just run away.”
Edenloff continues: “Paul and Amy know about this struggle and are usually very supportive. But when the world was first getting swept up in ChatGPT and we were deep in the songwriting process, Paul found it hilarious to ask the bot to create lyrics in the style of ‘The Rural Alberta Advantage’. I guess being reminded that you’re easily replaceable got me thinking about why I run from something I know can, and often does, bring me so much joy. I can say with total honesty none of the lyrics Paul coaxed from the AI made it onto the record, nor did any particularly move me. So for now, good old fashioned sweat, pen to paper inspiration still won the day for us.”
The division between what is assumed to be objective, real and tangible, and what is not is further explored by Alberta photographer Leroy Schulz’s work that continues to provide the visuals for this new music from The RAA. Schulz flew drones over Alberta landscapes and took photos from above, looking down on rows of fir trees, barns, crops, and roadways. From this perspective, the settings look unrecognizable, even unreal, like some alien planet. In fact, the album cover art is a photograph that was picked out by the band when they first started writing as a visual focal point for the record: the shapes, shadows, lines, and textures may seem foreign now from some of these new angles we’ve been shown in recent years, but they are all scenes of home.