Cass Mccombs-Wit’s End

Cass Mccombs is not the sort of music you listen to cheer yourself up, there has always been a sombre element to his songs, so its unusual to hear the soul trying to burst out of ‘County Line’ from new album ‘Wit’s End’, with falsetto vocals and a funky bass line its more Marvin Gaye than Mccombs blue. Luckily by ‘The Lonely Doll’, with its nightmare nursery rhyme xylophone, we are back; it sounds like a slightly prettier Velvet Underground underpinned by a hauntingHammond. ‘Buried Alive’ is the theme tune to a dubious seventies children’s television show but it is oddly beautiful as Mccombs sings about, well, being buried alive, its music to watch graves by. ‘Saturday Song’ ups the pace only slightly and trundles along to piano and brushed drums, its smokey saloon slow that may have you reaching for the whiskey bottle. ‘Memory’s Stain’ adds accordion to the mix but remains firmly in the same camp as the previous song and at seven minutes it a maudlin affair that sounds like a depressed Rufus Wainwright or a piece from a Claire Denis film scored by the Tindersticks. ‘HermitsCave’ introduces an obtrusive smacking that interrupts the melody, it’s an interesting but I’m sure conscious choice. On ‘Pleasant Shadow Song’ Mccombs sings gently and the song actually comes across as quite uplifting. ‘A Knock on the Door’ the nearly nine minute closer is perhaps the most accessible track on the album, Mccombs telling a story as the slinky jazz like instruments play over a slowed down Bad Seeds carny background. With so much of the record being downbeat it will be hard pushed to bring any new disciples to the fold but for fans of his earlier work it’s a continuation of his dark journey, you are welcome along just know what you are in for before you set out.

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