It’s not uncommon for bands to make wildly extravagant claims when attempting to describe the music they play. Unique is one of the terms most commonly wheeled out to convey there’s something different going on.
Of course, it’s rarely the case, unless you are talking about The Fretless.
There is very little that’s as exceptional as this – precisely what earned them must-see status both on their home turf and much further afield.
The Fretless take string music to fascinating places, transforming fiddle tunes and folk melodies through intricate, beautiful, high-energy arrangements and breathtaking performances.
In 2014, following the release of their self-titled second album, they carried off a Western Canadian Music Award for Instrumental Album of the Year and the Canadian Folk Music Award for Ensemble of the Year.
That followed similar success two years earlier when their debut album, Waterbound grabbed the attention of critics and fans across many tastes, and won Instrumental Album of the Year at the WCMAs and two CFMAs for Ensemble and Instrumental Group of the Year.
They went on to issue further stunning records that focused on original music as well as traditional tunes, following the trajectory set from their earlier releases, continuing to expand the rhythmic, harmonic and structured style of many folk genres they draw from.
These musicians have come from very different traditional and contemporary backgrounds, and are fully formed from a vast array of influences.
The band tours extensively and has enjoyed success all over the world, including admiration from those who enjoy what happens in that crossover area to classical where others too (such as Sam Reider, Chris Stout and Catriona McKay) enjoy success. In 2021 they broke new ground with the Open House project, a collaboration with ten of their favourite singers, including Taylor Ashton, Laurel Premo and Freddy & Francine.
Everywhere they go, they create the kind of impact that’s reserved for the best, largely through respect for their innovative approach and always as a result of supercharged execution.
Video: Bird’s Nest