A port city is a place where cultures and histories collide, where goods and ideas are imported and absorbed into the local bloodstream. Not entirely un-coincidentally, Port Cities the band is the musical equivalent; a melting pot of three of Canada’s most creative individual talents, drawn together to make an entity even more outstanding as a group than as its constituent parts.
As with any form of musical collaboration, the magic occurs in the blending of one element with another, but unlike most groups, Port Cities never started out to be a band. Comprised of trio of celebrated Nova Scotian musicians Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro and Breagh MacKinnon, Port Cities were drawn together through songwriting as independent artists, with every intention of crafting new material, and then going their separate ways. Yet that is not quite how it panned out.
Port Cities’ music is a perfect balance of Nashville (where much of it was recorded) and Nova Scotia (where the band reside); of the rustic and atmospheric, of indie intimacy and the sort of arena-pop anthems that betray Port Cities’ globe-trotting ambitions; 2017 sees the band embark upon their second cross-Canadian and European tours. Such ambition does not prevent moments of delicate musical insight though and new single “Where Have You Been” is seductive with oozing harmonies, intricate slide guitar and acoustic movements and contemplative lyrics. As Stone explains, “One thing we all seem to connect with lyrically is showing a less-than-perfect idea of love, and not being scared to talk about how everything is not great, or call out a lot of what normal, traditional love songs would be about.”
Double A-side “In The Dark” is an instantly engaging track that show’s off a minimal slight 80’s style sound with washes of affected guitar proving that the band can ‘come alive in the dark’ across varied sound palettes whilst retaining their grounding.
The first thing anyone observes when hearing Port Cities is that this band is tight. Seriously tight. Yet it begs the question; How to go about fusing divergent styles and experiences into such a singular rootsy Americana sound? From MacKinnon’s silky jazz-schooled timbre, allied to Gutho’s R&B influenced natural tendencies and Stone’s acoustic troubadour, the space in between the three is delightfully warm and resonant, yet entirely coherent across the course of their self-titled debut album expected early 2018.