Musically and emotionally, Departing is a worthy companion to the Rural Alberta Advantage’s stellar 2008 debut, Hometowns. The songs still touch on the frustrations and desperation of small-town life, but this time things are more personal than general, the aches and angst pinpointed to specific relationships rather than to a place. As the title suggests, these are songs about leaving and the conflicting emotions that come with it. Escape isn’t all it’s cut out to be it seems. Once again, the arrangements are spare: up-tempo acoustic guitar strumming and earnest, heart-on-his-sleeve vocals by Nils Edenloff, inventive drumming by Paul Banwatt, and keyboards and winsome backing vocals by Amy Cole. Beginning with a pair of forlorn gems in “Two Lovers” and “The Breakup,” the album flows smoothly across its 10 taut tunes in just over 30 minutes. The pace picks up with the skittering rhythms of “Under the Knife” and “Muscle Relaxants,” then moves to the catharsis of the urgent and galloping “Stamp,” the soaring “Tornado ’87,” and the brief and punchy “Barnes’ Yard,” before ending with the heartbreakingly lovely and sparse “Good Night.”

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