City of Refuge
(10.2008, Asthmatic Kitty)
Verdict: So, I've pretty much really liked all the Castanets albums, although I do find First Light's Freeze to have a few minor flaws, but ya I really enjoy this new album.
My adoration for last year's In the Vines is pretty darn high, so high in fact that it solidified Raymond Bryon as one of my fave song writers of the day. So to get a new album from him so soon is pretty great. Now, due to the quickness of this follow up I honestly wasn't expecting a whole lot, but City of Refuge packs quite the punch and is a welcome addition to the Castanets near flawless back catalogue. This album is the result of three weeks of isolation in a small town Nevada hotel room. Given the locale, the instrumentation is far sparser than previous efforts; we don't even hear a single percussive instrument the entire album. What we do get is a variety of minimal keyboard experiments, guitar instrumentals, and Raymond still writing songs that carry his patented air of sorrow and heartbreak. To soften the blow of some of the darker tracks, Raymond includes a cover of the traditional gospel tune, "I'll fly away" and a song his Father penned about the fall of Adam and Eve. While not as ambitious as In the Vines, City of Refuge is every bit as genuine and emotional, and I'd dare say a bit more intimate. Another great Castanets release and a must listen for anyone who has a pension for reverbed-out folk and americana.