Album review: Portage and Main “Never Had the Time”

text: Evie Saphire-Bernstein

Think of the last time you were hanging out with your good friends, driving to the country, swimming at the beach, cooking dinner, drinking wine… We all have soundtracks in our head as we experience times to remember– and Portage and Main‘s new album, Never Had the Time, sounds like that. It is the soundtrack to the life that only exists in your head.

Combining the musical stylings of Counting Crows and Mumford and Sons, their music is folk rock, with sweet harmonies and a strumming guitar. The words are significant, and the images they evoke serve to remind you of memories past, with an effervescent nostalgia. Using the harmonica, “As A Child” is a standout song on the album, plaintively provoking the listener to remember their childhood, and the loss of it by saying, “As a child I dreamt of great adventure, I knew only the limits of my mind …those days are falling slowly out of sight.”

It must be mentioned that whatever good feelings Portage and Main inspire, the most prevalent feeling is that of sadness – a sweet sadness, but sadness nonetheless. Their single, “Never Had the Time,” warns of missing out, explaining, “Don’t tell me once, don’t tell me twice, you never had the time. Your worries hold you back my dear, so never will you find…” The quote is left open ended, allowing the listener to wonder: life is full or hardships—what will you miss out by protecting yourself or your heart?

The album is intricately simple. The idea is straightforward – guys singing in harmony with a guitar, (pedal steel and regular acoustic)  drums, the usual. However, their lyrics are far from elementary, using thought provoking ideas and making their audience explore the inner workings of their minds. What makes these guys so special, so unique, is that they are not only deep, but they are also very self aware. In the terrific song “Good Morning Sunshine,” the singer discusses a relationship that is over, and the need to start over. He states, “ I ain’t afraid to tell you all about the tears I’ve cried. Time to turn the page and spread some new ink on the line–gotta end this chapter Lord, I do believe it’s time.”

Portage and Main are a great band with a terrific sophomore album. Their lyrics are sweet and smart, thoughtful and inspiring. They use their voices and lyrics to create a space for the myriad thoughts we feel all the time. The final song of the album, “It Is You,” is a creation of greatness, simply stating in the chorus that, “It is you that makes me whole.”

Simple words, but complex meaning. Simple music, but complex harmonies. The marriage of both is a sweet expression of true love. Portage and Main express what we feel—verbalizing our inner monologues. With that ability, there is no telling how far Portage and Main can go.

Buy the album on iTunes