Who are Riders of the Canyon? Of the four band members, Joana Serrat needs least introduction. The folk singer from Vic has proved her talent and perseverance for over a decade and has made a name for herself in the world of music with such albums as Hardcore from the Heart, which was released in English and Catalan in 2021 and which received high praise from the British music media.
Roger Usart, from Manlleu, was a member of the group La Fellatio de Cupido in the nineties, which a young Serrat greatly admired. Usart has not only made such notable records as Llamp de bosc, but has also embarked on such crazy and ambitious projects as collecting as much evidence as possible about the existence of Bigfoot, the hairy human-like mythical creature purported to inhabit forests in North America. He is currently preparing The Sasquatch Lair, a book documenting conversations with different experts.
Matthew McDaid is originally from Belfast, but as a child he settled in Rupit, from where he developed a folk style with a certain melancholic aftertaste. A few years ago that convinced Serrat (and her partner David Giménez) to sign him to her record label, Great Canyon.
Meanwhile, Víctor Partido is from Sant Boi de Llobregat and the only member of the quartet who is not from Osona county. As well as managing Aclam Records, for the past three years he has been the director of the iconic Altaveu music festival in his home town.
The coming together of this four has resulted in an eponymous album that shows that Catalonia can produce good music with deep American roots. With great English pronunciation and phonetics, the album is in part the product of many hours of listening to (excellent) music and also comes out of a feeling of fraternity and teamwork that the band members have managed to create.
Recorded in studios in Barcelona, Girona, Texas, Nashville, Oregon and London, the 10-track album kicks off with Master of My Lonely Time, with its powerful mix of electric sounds, and continues with pastoral vocal harmonies (on Here in My Dreams, for example) in a balance of modernity and tradition. The production of the first part recalls Serrat’s last works, while the second half is a formula that comes close to the American music of the seventies. “It’s sublime, a wonderful album,” wrote the respected music critic Allan Jones a few weeks ago in the British magazine, Uncut.
As with all Serrat’s records, the album features performances by guest musicians, such as BJ Cole (Elton John, R.E.M.), Cory Gray (The Delines, The Decemberists), and Grammy winners Jesse Chandler (Midlake, Mercury Rev) and McKenzie Smith (St. Vincent, Sharon Van Etten, First Aid Kit).
Let’s hope is they never tire of riding the canyon…