Jon McKiel – ‘Tonka War Cloud’

Review by Andrew Sisk

Tonka War Cloud arrives like an autumnal cold snap sounding earthy and sure- footed for Jon McKiel’s sophomore full length release.  The clean succinctness of his premier album, Nature of Things, has been transmuted into more self-conscious arrangements unfolding behind his steady voice.

The layers of sound throw themselves in a beautiful unique pile on tracks like “Iceman” and “Confidence Lodge” ,where the creative choices are pressed into the details.   A scaffolding of old time country on tracks like “Quills” and “Violent Hawaii” is balanced delicately with tar and gravel rhythm sections.

Recorded by the Atlantic Ocean in Riverport, NS,  the songs seem hewed out of a life in the countryside and hammered into recordings in the long halls of the Confidence Lodge studio. The old wood of the high ceilings is sensed up front amongst McKiel’s vocals, both swinging above the beams before being bounced down into the mix.  There is character in the production of this album that gives it a lived-in disposition and new strength to McKiel’s catalogue.