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Since leaving the barren grounds of 4AD and opening the proverbial wooden gate of wider exposure in the form of Domino Records, Cass McCombs has had a good, long hard look at himself and realised he's alright just the way he is. This latest offering from the Chicago-based songster travels down many a well-worn indie, soul-tastic path – music to the ears of existing fans.
A message to all those who haven't chanced upon McCombs before – this is not glorified indie, guitar hipness which seems to blare out of the majority of radio stations at the present time. Yes, he sounds a bit like Elliott Smith and yes, there are comparisons to Sam Prekop but very rarely artists stand alone without a grouping of sorts. If anything, strong references makes for robust song writing, which is exactly what Dropping The Writ comprises of.
Not surprising then, there are many highlights. Full Moon Or Infinity is an acoustic gem of fast paced echoed guitar and haunting vocals – the type that were prominent in the 70s but almost unheard of in the 90s. Not to say that the production sounds old-fashioned, just genuine. Crick In My Neck continues in the same vain but with drum accompaniment that wouldn't sound out of place in a Doves track.
Other tracks from this album take subtle leaps that in turn are a joy to listen. That's That honestly sounds like something The Proclaimers would write if they had grown up in Baltimore. Wheels Of Fortune exposes Cass' tremendous vocal range and Petrified Forest should be prescribed as a treatment for stress.
Like so many gems out there, it sometimes takes some effort to discover, but if you dig hard enough you may just happen upon a diamond such as this.