Sunday, March 02, 2008

Cast King

I've avoided posting this because I wanted to do a write-up, but three months after hardcore impulse buying this album (I read about it and went and bought it. It was madness.) I still can't come up with how to convey just how amazing this album is. It's low-key, spare, and gentle. Think the best of the Johnny Cash American series, take all the songs off that that pierce your heart, then add an extra dose of starkness, loss, and all those things, with that clear-eyed Hank Williams feel (directly channeling him on "Low Low Blues.")

The lyrics on Saw Mill Man deal more in painful memories than painful experiences. Our reflexes numb us to the former. The latter hang in there and devour us. The booze brings the pain out of the beaten man’s chest and places it beyond his control.

There’s some elegantly inspired guitar work from Downer and drums on one track. King and his acoustic rule the record, but can’t govern its outer territories. The negative space cries out like the wind on a clear night. These songs have been lonely longer than they’ve been alive. [Emerson Dameron]

Cast King passed away late last year. An mp3, "Saved," which I've also included here, was offered on his label's website, along with a PayPal button for donations to help with hospital and funeral expenses, but I haven't been able to find the button, and by this point the mp3 looks to have been taken down. Hopefully this means they were able to meet their goal. Cast King had been planning a gospel album ("not the kind you’d see on television, he’d say, but the kind that really gets to a man’s soul"), and "Saved" gives an example of what we'll be missing.

I strongly encourage you to purchase this album if you like what you're hearing. Probably one of the best $8.99 I've spent. You can also buy it directly from the label.

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