Amer Diab's third solo album, Loan Shark Emergency Room, sees him and his band, The Loan Sharks, channel their live rockabilly sound onto disc. "I'd be just as happy playing ballads all day long" says Diab, "but the reality of playing in live music venues is that you often have to drown out people's conversations to get your point across. I take a kind of guilty pleasure in doing that."
Most of the songs on Loan Shark Emergency Room, were written while Diab was touring as a sideman over the last two years. The blistering rock tune, The Devil is a Trucker, takes on the urge to push forward without really knowing why. "I wrote that driving through the Rockies at night in a snowstorm after having a few close calls with some trucks and wondering what pushed these guys to keep going that extra mile... other than amphetamines." The lullaby love song, Sunday Drivers is a snapshot of a couple on the road together. The dark album closer, River Bed, uncovers a tale of death and incest in a story that was told to Diab by a bar patron in Cape Breton after a show.
Recorded and Engineered by John Critchley (13 Engines), the album makes the most of the intimate delivery that Diab's last two albums have highlighted while also cranking up the amps for some rockabilly-infused numbers like Magdalena (about having sex while CNN's Iraq War coverage plays in the background) and a cover of Frank Sinatra's classic, Angel Eyes. "I wanted this album to be more like the live shows" says Diab "Having straight-ahead rockers like Nolan Gantry..." (about a friend of Diab's whose manual-labour work is slowly killing him) "is something that I haven't really done a lot on the first two albums because I always thought of the studio as my quiet place and the bars as my loud place."
Diab also gave his live band some extra credit with recognition on the album title. The band, consisting of Brad Holy on drums, Patrick Tarr on bass, and Jud Ruhl (Gandharvas, The Beauties) on guitar have more impact on this album than the previous two. As Diab says, "This album sounds pretty much like a show we might have played with some friends coming on stage to help out."
Along with Diab's live band, the album is rounded out with a host of guest musicians lending their talent to the recording. They include: Christine Bougie (Amy Millan Band) on lap steel; Jack Breakfast on piano and organ; Jennifer Gillmor (Roach Motel) on cello; Darin Yorston (Wayside Ramblers) on banjo and mandolin; Daniel Easty (who toured with Amer on a stint with Kelly & The Kellygirls) on saxophone and horn arrangements. Juno-nominated Lori Yates (Hey Stella) appears with a heart wrenching duet vocal on Orphan Keys.
Praise For Amer's Previous Albums
For There / After:
"A top-notch album." - Mark Rheaume - CBC Radio One
"Part a singer-songwriter and part an alt-country guitarist... The rousing duet Found Us Again, with the astonishing Lysa Fina, beats anything off the new Emmylou Harris-Mark Knopfler disc...You gotta love Amer Diab." - Brad Wheeler, The Globe & Mail
"Diab has avoided the sophomore jinx with There / After, delivering the goods with a dozen singer/songwriter gems... A drop-dead gorgeous duet with Lysa Fina recalls the Parsons-Harris chemistry that to this day sets the standard... A scintillating cover of the Boss's Nebraska may indicate where his career is heading." - Brent Raynor, NOW Magazine
"A Spectacular CD... One of the scene's most endearing treasures." - Andy Frank, CIUT FM
"Diab connects the dots between Chilton, Parsons, Strummer and Springsteen with both reverence and self respect... strident, full blooded songs... A strong sophomore effort that never wilts under the pressure." - Steve Baylin, Ottawa Xpress
"Full of energy, diversity, confidence and brimming full of top songs. Americana doesn't get much better than this... I can't recommend this record enough. Rating: 10 out of 10." - Andy Riggs, Americana UK
"An exceptional new disc... The tune Joe's Blues is brilliant, and its subject, the late Joe Strummer, would be proud." - Kerry Doole, Tandem Magazine
"Another tidily arranged set that makes understated but effective use of horns, strings and backing vocals... Steeped in bittersweet reminiscence." - Vit Wagner, The Toronto Star
"Beautifully expressed... Amer Diab is certainly going places." - Peter Pleyte, Alt.Country (Netherlands)
"Absolutely fantastic stuff... Slowdancing is a beautiful song that echoes nostalgic school days... A great album... sit back and enjoy." - Tom Fahey, Leith FM (Scotland)
For The Year of the Apology:
"A gifted guitarist, songwriter and performer with a musical reach that knows no limits ... honest, gritty lyrics and refreshing musicality."
Andy Frank - CIUT FM
"...Diab transform[s] alternately into a country-rock Elvis Costello... and a bruised-up Jackson Browne..."
Stuart Berman - Eye Weekly
"...a debut that evokes crying in your beer and smoking rollies at the Matador..."
Sarah Liss - Now Magazine
"Diab grits his teeth and carves out a raw, rustic sound that recalls the wiry work of Ryan Adams..."
Steve Baylin - Ottawa Xpress
"Honest lyrics set to a moody, yet melodic backdrop, make The Year of the Apology a pleasure to repeatedly spin - certainly not something to apologize for."
Ryan McLaughlin - Canadian Musician
"[A] solidly-crafted 11-song debut... prickly pop... reverberating aural collage... [and] a roiling crest of surf guitar."
Vit Wagner - The Toronto Star
"A splendid record... [Diab has] a knack for crafting his own gems..."
Alex Steininger - In Music We Trust
"Diab is an expressive vocalist with a keen melodic sense and a bit of a whiskey rattle, a la Jeff Tweedy... Well crafted and thoughtfully arranged... "
Chuck Molgat - Exclaim