The second instalment in Eamon McGrath’s serialized album collection sees him take a different direction than the seminal ‘80s indie acts he uses as his compass. Indeed, opening track, “Canadian Shield,” has enough glowering fatalism and distortion to make any Mark Lanegan project proud. Quickly followed by “Paper Boats,” with its the Neil-Young-and-Crazy-Horse dynamics, stop/starts and psychedelic guitar meanderings, Exile Part 2 packs a fearsome one-two punch both in volume and angst. That is what makes the final, solo, acoustic track, “Running from the Cops,” such a remarkable transition. A poignant reflection on lost-found-lost-again love, the simple chords and honest vocals deliver the song better than a buzz-saw attack ever could. While McGrath may still be comparatively young, his songwriting is beginning to show its wisdom and experience — even if it’s episode-by-episode on a frozen strip of pavement between Toronto and Winnipeg.

By Spencer Brown

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