Anchorless (March 2019) is the sophomore album by Logan McKillop, a singer-songwriter from Onanole, Manitoba.
McKillop sings in a straightforward tenor, clear and direct above a variety of stringed instruments, bringing sincerity to his lyrics. His articulate fingerpicking on the acoustic guitar embellishes his vocal melodies and provides a strong rhythmic backbone, especially significant on the many songs without drums.
The overall mood of the 10 tracks is mellow, the tempos slow or medium but refraining from bleakness with the optimistic worldview of the words.
The title track “Anchorless” is a highlight, opening with intricate guitar over atmospheric bowed strings. Though a simple, repeated folk melody for the bulk of the song, interest is sustained through a deliberate arrangement, each verse layering vocal harmonies, while various guitars and stringed instruments pass pieces of the melody back and forth.
“Triumphs and failures will rock your boat / wave after wave, storm after storm / you've been a sailor since the day you were born” conclude the lyrics, epitomizing the overarching hopefulness of the album.
“Days of My Demise” has a darker tone, and with the addition of drum set and electric instruments, it’s the most epic and rocking song on the album, a nice change of pace at the halfway point of the 10 tracks. “Days” is the only song to feature an extended guitar solo, where McKillop alternates fluidly between rhythmic jabs and ornamental lead lines.
With twangy electric guitar and warbling pedal steel, “Out of the Blue” is the record's most overtly country song. Lines like “as we said goodbye / you were the only one to cry / until you went walking out that door” have the authentic ache of a classic country ballad.
Anchorless is impressive in its cohesiveness: the hopeful themes of the lyrics, the unadorned sincerity of Logan's voice and the musical arrangements that bring subtle variety to the set of reflective folk songs make Anchorless a gratifying listen from start to finish.
By Jesse Popeski