"They think it's the place in Germany," says Elias Abi Daoud, leader of Ostrea Lake, of when people say his band's name aloud. Really it's the road he grew up on in the decidedly more rural Musquodoboit Harbour, between Porters Lake and Lake Charlotte. But his baritone ukulele-based, harmony-grazed pastoral folk songs do have their beginnings in another city, Boston, where he began writing them when he was 18.
"I was finishing high school and I wanted to get out of Nova Scotia for a bit," he says. After returning in 2011 he connected with Moe Kabbara at the Agricola Street open mic house, next to the old NSLC. "Moe really added a lot," he says. "The song from our first EP, 'Buildings Grow On Man-Made Soil,'–I went with him when he got his first mandolin at the Folklore Centre, and the night we got home he wrote that. It was meant to be."
Another partnership Abi Daoud values is with Nick Macdonald, who engineered Ostrea Lake's latest EP Dear Outside the Woods. "All the ukulele and vocals we did in the woods behind York Redoubt," says Abi Daoud, "and the rest in his house. It was me and Nick mostly–it took us eight months, with his work and my work. We built it around the forest sound we got from my voice and my ukulele."
Despite varying recording locations and techniques, the four-song Dear Outside the Woods doesn't sound patched together or even lo-fi, and there's an intensity in some of the songs that suggest there's a louder, rockier tension underneath, something above the lullaby hush Ostrea Lake is so good at.
Abi Daoud tries to adjust to the crowd he's in front of; for IDOW he and Kabarra will be joined by bassist Scott Keddy: "It's a modern kind of folk twist."