Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Album Review: Cadillac Sky - Letters in the Deep

On their third album, Letters in the Deep, Cadillac Sky joined producer Dan Auerbach to create a hybrid of bluegrass, rock and blues with a broad appeal.

The album opens opens with tons of energy and tension. "Trapped Under the Ice" starts as a dark bluegrass blues, but finishes as a noisy rocker. The frantic tale of a lover’s interrogation in "3rd Degree" is an instant classic.

The energy picks up again with the fantastic "Hangman" and the punk-influenced and finger-knotting "Bathsheeba." The mix of driving rock beats and cleanly plucked strings is a wonderful combination.

When Cadillac Sky slow it down they tend to take one of two routes: traditional ballads or experimental songs. Songs like "Human Cannonball" and "Pitiful Waltz" fit into the former and while they aren’t as interesting musically, they are emotional and comforting.

The experimental route is exemplified by the smokey "Hypocrite" and the brilliant "Lee of Stone" interludes. These three short interludes are beautiful and worthy of listening to even outside the context of the record.

There’s rarely a bad moment in Letters in the Deep’s 17 tracks, but there are a few. The chorus of "Break My Heart Again" induces an uneasy feeling and "Tired Old Phrases," despite well written lyrics, is too lullaby-like for its own good. Also, the album closing instrumental, "The Long Sigh," is unfulfilling and the least interesting of the interludes.

Letters in the Deep is a well-rounded album that brims with energy, musicianship and honest emotion. Much like The Avett Bros and The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Cadillac Sky should appeal to both long-time fans of traditional American music as well as catch the ear of those new to the genre.

Letters in the Deep releases June 8 on Dualtone Records. Cadillac Sky will perform in Wilmington on August 1 at The Soapbox. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 the day of the show.

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