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House Handshake’s quintet of self-described “sensual folk” rockers might have had the busiest local debut of 2018, having played an excess of 45 shows, including show-stealing sets at both Whoop & Hollar Folk Festival and Hoot Owl Festival. From that frenzy of activity came their inaugural album House, a four-song EP that showcases everything great about the group.

House Handshake presents itself less as a band and more of a tight-knit, makeshift family. They put on a united public front, and seem to be genuinely supportive of one another on and off the stage. Their music comes across as a labour of love, brought together by passionate individuals who sincerely love the local music scene and are grateful to be part of it.   

The music is anchored by the smouldering chemistry between Sarah Greco and Quinton Poitras, whose dueling vocal harmonies are the backbone of every song. Sarah’s soaring, well-trained voice combines perfectly with Quinton’s gritty pipes and gives the group’s introspective and personal lyrics a unique depth.

There is a charming DIY spirit that surrounds the record, despite being professionally recorded at Paintbox Recording by producer Lloyd Peterson. The low-fi nature of the production adds another great flavour to the collection of songs, as does the fabulous album artwork created by the group’s bassist Darrell Anderson.

The cover of House looks like it should be framed and admired in an art gallery. The songs themselves are energetic, full of catchy hooks and contain toe-tapping riffs. It’s hard to have a unique take on an old genre like folk, but House Handshake is just edgy enough to pull it off.    

-- Ryan Sorensen

Published in Volume 73, Number 16 of The Uniter (January 31, 2019)

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