Yellowknife, NT, like many cities and tightly-knit communities in Northern Canada, is bursting at the seams with musical potential. A simple Bandcamp search or visit to the annual Folk on the Rocks festival is evident of that. What initially may seem to be an underserved region of the country is fertile ground for Digawolf, a band committed to exploring the history of the Tlicho people, and serving as a vital voice for the Indigenous renaissance.
On “Yellowstone”, Digawolf’s poetic prose and sincere, romantic lyricism (taking cues from Gordon Lightfoot and Stan Rogers), coupled with singer-guitarist Diga’s low, husky baritone (as smooth and silky as vintage Leonard Cohen), comes together as a lush tour-de-force. The band’s penchant for deep-seated honesty belies a subtle but tacit spirituality. There’s ethereal beauty conveyed in lines like “You’re beautiful, your spirit in mine. I want to be close to you, a secret place no one can find”. That’s the kind of sentiment that comes with age, experience, and a genuine sense of completion.
Accoutrements of potent, plaintive slide guitar mesh brilliantly with the band’s use of gentle, rolling percussion. Nothing quite encapsulates the lengths one will go than the last line of the chorus, “When earthquakes and lightning come, I’ll still be lovin’ you”. Whether interpreted for the personal, the national, or the self, great music unites us. Geographical distance, especially so in the streaming era, is no longer that great a barrier. And with the Indigenous Next Wave rolling in, informing strength and power with each new swell of change, the raw ambition and sense of storytelling on “Yellowstone” will leave a powerful mark on all who witness it.