Cass McCombs: “County Line”
It’s easy for singer-songwriters to get caught up in the studio, dressing up their songs with extra instrumentation. But over the past few years, the enigmatic Cass McCombs has gone the opposite direction, paring his music down to its bare essentials.
2009′s Catacombs was a cult hit–songs like “Dreams Come True Girl” and “You Saved My Life” are brutally honest folk songs that prove McCombs is both a gifted lyricist and musician. This week sees the release of WIT’S END, the California native’s fifth album to date. It’s lyrically-dense, full of McCombs’s patient ruminations on loneliness and regret. Fittingly, the instrumentation is sparse–piano, bass, and drums fill out most of the songs.
“County Line” is the record’s stunning opener, a smoky ballad that immediately grabs your attention. While the content is dark–”You never even tried to love me–McCombs’s “whoa whoas” lighten the blow considerably. You feel like you’re right in the middle of the studio with McCombs and his band, a truly rare experience for such an enigmatic songwriter.