Cave Singers Welcome Joy(Matador) Buy it from Insound
The Cave Singers employ a couple of different types of folk songs, some for the daytime and some for the nighttime. Few bands can work it both ways and on The Cave Singers sophomore release, Welcome Joy, the warmer daytime formulas that revolve around simple fingerpicked guitar tend to work out better.
On the first two tracks the band remains nestled deep in its niche. Summer Light blends comfortingly familiar acoustic patterns, a repeated A section, and growing textures that combine to call up images of country roads, wooden fences and watering holes. The no-frills percussion is refreshing and used sparingly, never to obstruct the song. Leap builds in the same way and adds occasional harmonica stabs to break things up. When laid over the soft earth tones, Pete Quirks’s gravelly voice makes perfect sense. These songs express urgency, a need to get where they’re going, even if their route is confined to a single path. Nothing here is quite as lovely as the diamond in the rough, Beach House, a little gem that shows they’ve got the sun-filled forest vibe down pat. Welcome Joy only stumbles when it deviates from the wistful.
At the Cut breaks up the invigorating momentum established in the first two standout tracks. It’s too much of a rocker for this album and from here on in it becomes a little hit or miss. Shrine calls in the darker nighttime vibe as a campfire spiritual chant, but doesn’t contrast well with the lighter fare. For an album that brings you into a very specific world, it shakes you out of it a little too often. Sure, an album full of songs of similar form and tempo might grow wearing, but for the winsome vibe the band is trying to extract, it could’ve been done suitably, consistently and worked as a great soundtrack for a Sunday drive through country back roads.
It closes with the sigh of Bramble, another one of the band’s well-crafted whispers that seems more like a lo-fi sketch than a fully realized song. In isolated moments like this Welcome Joy shines as a companion piece equal to their first release, Invitation Songs. Come to think of it, taking the best songs from these two albums could make an excellent full-length. I think I have a playlist to make.31 January, 2010 - 20:04 — Brett Oronzio