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Andy Cabic’s musical being is, like many curious 21st century musicians, shaped and sustained by divergent tangents. If he’s not crafting a melancholy folk rock diamond in his Northern California studio, he’s moving a dance floor with bossa nova and house DJ sets, or helping curate a compilation of Japanese City Pop.
What’s magic about this new Vetiver LP Up On High is the way these tangents color the ten songs without undermining a distinct move to more elemental, spacious and natural arrangements. At t he heart of each of these ten songs is Cabic’s voice: sweet, tender and weathered a welcome and soothing old friend if ever there was one. There are other familiar friends: the album also features longtime engineer and collaborator Thom Monahan and the sam e resourceful and versatile band that helped Cabic make the more dense and layered Complete Strangers from 2015.
Up On High was written on acoustic guitar. Having moved twice since Complete Strangers , increasingly accustomed to a life in and out of boxes , it was the easiest instrument to reach for in moments of inspiration. The basic tracking of the album took place over a few Spring days at a friend’s house in the high desert of California. This simple set - up captured the organic immediacy of a roomful of friends playing together on the floor. It’s alive and ever so subtly crackling with the intensity of a band working together, teasing out the melody and rhythms of songs with warmth and intimacy. Cabic and Monahan took the fruits of this session to Los Angeles and finished the album at Monahan’s studio over the summer as other friends popped by to lend their talents.
This album reflects the world that Cabic created and lives in: Jorge Ben phrasings peek out from behind Tom Petty's Wildflowers outtakes , a gentle jangle lifts whispers of REM’s Murmur on a breeze up from Compass Point Studios. But Up On Hig h is most clearly Cabic and his band inhabiting the realm the band was born in — sleek, economical, soulful, and sometimes sadness - tinged melodies riding on the gentle choogle and sway of an ensemble moving in beautiful unison. This is an album that breathes with you in real, lived in, natural time.
Joe Sampson is the champion of the musical understatement, each song exuding a gently mesmerizing beauty. His music evokes the comfortably sad acoustic tones of Nick Drake or Leonard Cohen, ornamented with often darkly humorous lyrics, intoned in a soft yet road-worn baritone. Joe’s intimate, emotive songs draw you in, gradually weaving their subtle magic. Since his childhood days singing in his family’s barbershop quartet, up through his years collaborating with celebrated musicians like Nathaniel Rateliff and Esme Patterson, Joe has steadily sharpened his sound and style, becoming one of Denver’s most celebrated songwriters. After being named Westword’s Songwriter of the Year in 2008, the alt weekly described his work as “combining the emotional weight of an acoustic break-up album like Beck’s Sea of Change with an aw-eff-it humour.”
General Admission, Seated Venue
314 E. Mountain Ave
Fort Collins, CO, 80524