Colder Streams is a profoundly powerful testament to the Sadies’ longevity and tribute to Dallas Good, the band’s de facto guiding light all these years.
There’s no denying the fervent love that’s out there for the Sadies. For those like me who have followed their career from the fringes, that intense level of admiration has sometimes felt obsessive. Still, as the news of Dallas Good’s death washed over the Canadian music community, it was clear how special and sacred the Sadies have been to so many people. Colder Streams, the band’s last full-length release to feature Good’s singing, songwriting, and playing (completed in 2021, well before his passing), is a testament to the band’s steadfast musical convictions.
The Sadies sound great on Colder Streams thanks to the production and engineering/mixing work of Richard Reed Parry and Pietro Amato, respectively, who have managed to bottle the band’s essence on this album. Guitar rock, surf-pop, country twang, and hazy 60s psychedelia evenly flow through these eleven songs in just over a half-hour, ever expeditious while always exploring the boundaries of genre and delving into Good’s signature fascination with lyrical darkness. The devil, as they say, is truly in the details, and the grooves on Colder Streams make the fallen angel’s presence felt right from the start.
“7 years until the hex is broken / 7 years to endure the curse,” Good sings off the top on the rippling opener “Stop and Start.” It’s packed with vivid imagery and references to sickness, sadness, madness, and poison. Still, it turns poetic and profound at the prayer-like bridge: “Let the spirits of the fallen guide you / With every step and measured breath / Far away from the pain inside you / And focus on what you have left.” “More Alone” will easily become Colder Streams’ most lyrically dissected song. Direct references to the accidental overdose death of friend and collaborator Justin Townes Earle (“We gave him tough love but it wasn’t enough to fight back against his disease,”) sit beside lines that could just as easily be said about Good now that he’s gone: “It hurts me to think about what coulda been and everything that won’t ever be.”
Even with the sudden and unexpected sadness that permeates Colder Streams, it is a profoundly powerful testament to the Sadies’ longevity (it’s their eleventh release) and tribute to the band’s de facto guiding light all these years. Though he lamented what was lost by the death of his friend, it’s clear from the “jaded and unreliable sales-pitch” he wrote for this album that Good would rather be remembered for the work he left behind than for the songs and records he won’t get to make now:
“Colder Streams is a record made with love by loved ones. The Sadies have released a lot of records. This is one of them.
“Do any bands make their best work this far along in their career? I can think of artists who still make great music after all these years, but their best? Yet, here we are and that’s what I’m accusing us of.”
The Sadies: guilty as charged.
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