The best album I heard last summer, and probably all year, came out of Dawson City.
Hope, the debut album by The Naysayers, totally rocks. Led by singer-songwriter Drea Nasager, the band fuels its folk rock songs with a heavy punk edge. Nasager’s lyrics are sung, snarled, and spat; they mix with Jonathan Howe’s lead guitar and the driving rhythm section of Dan DeGroot on bass and Matt Sarty on drums, for a sound somewhere between Lucinda Williams and Sleater-Kinney.
“It totally has an aggressive rock n’ roll feel because that’s how we perform,” says Nasager. “That’s our style for sure. At the CD release, a lot of people said The Pretenders, and they referenced a lot of Patti Smith and that kind of vibe, and I’m super OK with it.”
‘Aggressive’ is an apt description. A Naysayers gig leaves the performers and audience drenched in sweat, as their packed CD release at the Westminster Hotel and Nasager’s postshow selfies from the band’s recent tour prove.
Originally from Peterborough, Ontario, Nasager moved to Dawson City with the intention of making it big.
“I’ve been coming here personal since 2003, playing music, and I moved here permanently in 2011. I moved here to be a big fish in a small pond and to take the opportunity of being a national musician from small town.”
The band formed after Nasager was performing solo at Bombay Peggy’s.
“Matt and Jonathan approached me to be in a band,” she recalls. “And we had heard that Dan was a bass player and just kind of roped him in. After a practice we just realized that that was a perfect fit for us.”
Drummer Sarty agrees. “We started this band in the deep dark winter months. I think that that bonded us for a bit, like we thought, let’s be a band for a while. The winter months definitely bond the friendships, and it bonds the band.”
Nasager’s lyrics are raw and personal, and steeped in uncensored emotion.
She says of the album: “It’s singer-songwriter so it’s very autobiographical. Since moving to Dawson I went from a trailer to a divorce to owning my own home. I’ve been a single mother for about four years now, so the album been a long time coming. It’s a genuine expression, and it’s so honest and I think the crowd and the fans and the people who like the music, they don’t feel like we’re bullshitting them at all.”
The honesty is felt on ‘Family Farm’, a song about the plight of a small farmer: “Today they sold the family farm/Cut at the elbow to save the arm”.
On ‘Hope Pt. 2’, she responds to a breakup first with, “I ain’t going to sing about hope”, and finally, with no suitable words, just screaming.
“That’s how I feel, that’s how I write,” Nasager says. “And that’s why people tell me, ‘I don’t buy CDs but I bought this, because I just went through this thing and that’s exactly how I felt’. And that’s what I want.”
Hope is available digitally and on CD at naysayersmusic.bandcamp.com Outstanding Tracks: Family Farm, Hearts Parts, Strike