Scott Loomer, namesake and leader of this Canadian sextet, is a songwriter of unqualified vision. Like Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor, Loomer is capable of encapsulating raw feeling and humor by way of cryptic lyrics and detailed musical arrangements. Songs of the Wild West Island, the band's sophomore effort, is a consistently challenging and poetically lovely work, full of literary allusions and just the right amount of alt-country swagger.

"You say your name is Paul/I think you think it's Jesus," sings Loomer on "Bang the Nails," one of several cuts with underlying (however obscure) religious imagery. Elsewhere, Loomer's concerns turn to matters of the heart with equally metaphorical results. "I am just some old ice cream, all cold and hard and grainy/Hiding underneath the bread at the bottom of your freezer," Loomer sings on "Caramel Heart" as the band (especially keyboardist Mike Taylor) plays understatedly behind him.

Sounding like a beautiful amalgamation of the Gourds and Arcade Fire, Songs of the Wild West Island is a heady and heartening display of emotion and quiet intensity. Rarely settling for the norm, Loomer makes music of a distinct quality, songs that assess the past, present and future with equal apprehension.



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