Zachary Cale — Duskland (August 7th, 2015) ≡•» Jeho záhadnost pramení zřejmě z mnoha předchozích vlivů — od Dylana, přes Josepha Arthura — a tak i tímto albem dokazuje nebývalou příkladnost: osvojil si způsob písničkářství pomocí nástrojů, které zanechali jeho předchůdci, včetně J.J. Calea — mám na mysli zejména obratnost a zručnost, se kterou vyřezává svůj vlastní intimní výklenek, jakousi výstavní uměleckou vitrínku, oddělenou od stresu a napětí vnějšího světa. Duskland je Caleova “zlatá hodina”. Location: Enon, Louisiana ~~ New York City
Album release: August 7th, 2015
Record Label: No Quarter
01. Sundowner 3:48
02. Blue Moth 5:19
03. I Left the Old Cell 4:07
04. Evensong 4:54
05. Basilica 2:10
06. Dark Wings 3:54
07. I Forged the Bullet 3:29
08. Changing Horses 4:25
09. Low Light Serenade 7:20
℗ 2015 No Quarter Records
≡ Zachary Cale: Songs, Singing, Guitar
≡ James Preston: Bass, Vocals
≡ Ethan Schmid: Drums, Percussion
≡ Phil Glauberzon: Organ, Piano, Synthesizer, Guitar
•• Cale has been releasing records under his own name for just shy of a decade. Duskland, the title of his latest record, is a work of craftsmanship full of elegant lyricism and mysterious imagery; a collection of songs that look directly into the face of darkness yet drive beyond it, forging new paths.
•• Allegorical in nature, Cale's songs move away from the inward reveries of his last album, Blue Rider, and divide outward into the voices of others. The album projects images of wide–open spaces and landscapes constructed from half remembered dreams. There isn't always a clear resolution, characters remain in a state of twilight, wandering from place to place in search of an undefined illumination. The lyric: “So many lifetimes I lived in one / I've got to bury them now / No surprises this time around / Not beneath this crown,” taken from "I Left The Old Cell", aptly captures the human complexities found throughout the songs.
•• Taking cues from artists like Oh Mercy/Time Out of Mind era Dylan and Nick Cave's work with the Bad Seeds, Duskland evokes a restless spirit, one that is informed by American myths and tall tales. There's a Western flair to many of the album's songs with nods to soundtrack composers such as Morricone and the dream–laden noir of Badalamenti. Many of the album's highlights maintain a ceremonial grace. "Sundowner" opens the album with a lush organ progression played over a plaintive march. As the tension builds, Cale muses “Branded as a fugitive / Dressed in the clothes of an innocent / Sirens ricochet / From bloodless lips I hear them call my name.” From there the album moves forward like one long processional; Cale leads his band through up–tempo folk rock and charming country waltzes to minor key dirges and atmospheric instrumentals until ending with a horn section dragging over a funeral beat in the long form ballad "Low Light Serenade".REVIEW
BY MATTHEW FIANDER, 6 August 2015; Score: 8
•• ZACHARY CALE'S EXCELLENT NEW RECORD IS FULL OF TRAVELERS AT REST, PEOPLE TAKING STOCK OF WHAT ALREADY WAS AND CAUGHT BETWEEN WORRY AND HOPE OVER WHAT COMES NEXT.
•• Zachary Cale’s last album, 2013’s excellent Blue Rider, was an exercise in sparseness as expansion. The record centered on Cale’s voice and finger–picked guitar, with a few flourishes here and there. But the spare sounds echoed out into vast space around them, making them larger, presenting isolation not as a limitation or a way to be closed off but rather as an expansion, even an extension of the self.
•• That record, as its title implies, was about a traveler on a personal journey. Cale’s new record, and first for the No Quarter label, is called Duskland, and the title hints at changes right away. Here, the focus is on a destination, but a liminal one. It is neither fully dark nor blazed in light. It’s also an album that stretches out into many voices, many perspectives. Though the songs still contain Cale’s knack for a bittersweet phrase, these songs have a sense of the surreal to them. The travelers in these songs seem lost in the landscapes around them. The lines between viewer and what’s viewed get blurred. On smoldering opener “Sundowner”, the narrator is bathed in the light of a “crimson moon” and reaches their hands up into the sky as if they might become one with it. “Basilica”, a beautiful instrumental in the middle of the record, seems to reach out into the corners and dark places of the titular space as if to become coated in its history, as if to glean something from the building’s survival of time.
•• These moments and others seem to suggest that, if Blue Rider was about the path, Duskland is about taking stock. There’s still plenty of travel on the record, from the character “branded as a fugitive” in “Sundowner” to the list of places left behind in “I Left the Old Cell” to the trail set upon in closer “Low Light Serenade”. But movement on the record is distance already traveled, or distances about to be. Instead, the album concerns itself with the moment, with the question of whether the traveler has learned anything from the past or has anything fruitful to find in the future. “Blue Moth” is a perfect, heartbreaking example of this. It vacillates between internal anguish (“Every dull pain that takes host in my brain”) and domestic comfort and care (“in the face of my love”). It’s a song that can both “stare into the void” and come back again. It never tips over into the darkness, but it’s not basking full–on in the sun either.
•• “Evensong” comes back to the isolation of Blue Rider, but there’s a new sense of perspective to it. “A game of chance has placed you here”, Cale sings over a ringing swell of guitars and voices and a shuffling beat. “Yet isolation brings no tears”, he continues, “you’ve come to terms with those fears”. The music itself suggests something larger than the individual. As the narrator comes to terms with an isolation, one that may or may not be temporary, voices fill the space around them, as if to suggest just living in the world can be its own sort of company. There’s a similar sort of relief in the confessions of “Dark Wings” and destructive admissions of “I Forged the Bullet”. There’s a sense of unease in each song. “Dark Wings” ends on the line “My heart is not at peace,” while “I Forged the Bullet” has a person who “returns to my door”. Whether that reunion is a joyous one or one of uncertainty is unclear. But even when things are “not at peace” on Duskland, there’s the chance they will be. On “Low Light Serenade” the narrator “braved the worst of storms / only to return to familiar shores.” The song doesn’t present this as a retreat, but rather as a decision, as a destination that can be seen anew after those storms. Duskland is full of travelers at rest, in a new or old place, with this quiet moment fraught with the combination of worry and hope over what comes next, and the belief that whatever came before will help them weather whatever that future may be.
•• Musically, Duskland fills in the spaces of Blue Rider. Though some songs, like “Dark Wings”, still echo out into space and ride on closely mic’d guitars and reverbed vocals, they still swell up with organ and horns and vocals. Many of the songs layer contrasting guitar lines on top of each other to brilliant effect. “Evensong” rolls dustily on acoustic guitar work, but chiming electric guitar casts a long shadow over it while in the distance, distorted fills scuff up the sweet pastoral feel of the song. “Changing Horses” pulls off a similar, if more muscled feat. The acoustic strums along, before electric guitars bloom over it into cascading waves of sound. “Low Light Serenade” starts as spare as any song in Cale’s catalog, but it just lures you in to hear the distant electric guitar notes (which recall Neil Young’s haunting score to the film Dead Man) and the soft lap steel. These songs can fill up space or carve it out, but either way Duskland marks another evolution in Cale’s sound, another shift in textures and sonic landscape that reflects the unique themes and beauties of this record. These songs are bittersweet, haunting yet hopeful, and endlessly listenable. Duskland is Cale’s golden hour. •• http://www.popmatters.com/
By Ben Yung, August 4, 2015 at 8:00 am
≡ Zachary Cale is a NYC based songwriter/musician originally hailing from the small southern town of Enon, Louisiana. His music ranges from lyrically driven balladry over American Primitive inspired guitar playing to Cosmic Country music and cerebral folk rock to darker torch songs with Western themes.
≡ His first album Outlander Sessions was released by New World Of Sound records in 2005. Recorded with a borrowed acoustic guitar on a 4 track cassette machine.
≡ For the past decade Cale has been releasing records through his own imprint All Hands Electric among other small labels. In 2008 Cale’s second solo album Walking Papers was released, an album that fuses highly poetic imagery across stark balladry. ≡ Marking a huge step forward from his debut Walking Papers displays Cale’s progression from lo–fi acoustic busker to a songwriter of visionary scope. It was recorded by Kevin McMahon (Titus Andronicus, Swans) at Jett Studio previously known as the historic Bearsville Sound Studio where albums by The Band, Bobby Charles, NRBQ and Muddy Waters were recorded. Upon it’s release Cale was described by New Jersey’s, WFMU as a “songwriter’s songwriter” with a writing style comparable to the greats like Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt, and Leonard Cohen.
≡ Before it’s release Cale started a rock band called Illuminations. All Hands Electric issued their debut album See–Saw the same year that Walking Papers was released. ≡ The straight ahead power pop inspired rock n roll band showcased a different side of Cale’s songwriting. Cale began using electric guitars, adopting a style and delivery that aligns itself to roots inspired rock bands such as Big Star, VU and Crazy Horse.
≡ 2011 saw the release of Cale’s first critically acclaimed album Noise Of Welcome. ≡ Upon it’s release Pop Matters proclaimed Cale as “the best singer songwriter working today. Period.”. The album is a perfect blend of Cale’s penchant for cosmic American rock styles that he used in his work with Illuminations and the dark mystic balladry of his solo albums. That year Cale toured the U.S. with a full band, and in solo performances across Europe.
≡ Blue Rider was released in 2013 to great fan fare. Praised by Pitchfork, Spin, American Songwriter, NY Magazine, and Pop Matters the album features a stripped down acoustic sound implementing country blues tunings adopted from guitar legends Skip James and John Fahey, coupled with Cale’s haunting vocal delivery and enigmatic lyrics. With the addition of ethereal synth lines and electric textures over it’s acoustic foundation the album exudes an atmosphere that is otherworldly yet traditionally grounded. Upon it’s release Cale became a member of the NYC based Crystal Stilts, joining the band as their second guitarist as well as supporting them on a cross country US tour.
≡ On stage Cale performs both solo and with an full electric band. In concert his melodically complex guitar playing has been compared to Neil Young and Bert Jansch with nods to pre–war Piedmont and Ragtime players such as Blind Willie McTell and Mississippi John Hurt. In a full band setting Cale has been known to strap on an electric, adopting a style and delivery that flies closer to country–tinged rock songwriters such as Alex Chilton, Ray Davies and Tom Petty. The intensity of his solo sets hold crowds spellbound, while the electric band sets veer into a mild psychedelia that’s equally captivating.
≡ Cale has played hundreds of shows traversing both the US and EU sharing stages with Sharon Van Etten, Robyn Hitchcock, Neko Case, Six Organs of Admittance, Deer Tick, Ryley Walker, Justin Townes Earle, Jessica Pratt, The Black Swans, War on Drugs, Steve Gunn, Villagers, Hiss Golden Messenger, Foxygen, Wooden Wand, Michael Chapman, William Tyler, Chris Forsyth, Angel Olsen, Dan Melchior, and many others.
≡ Duskland is Cale’s 5th album under his own name, an album that employs full band arrangements and western motifs to further chronicle Cale’s haunted vision of Americana. The album will be released August 7th 2015 via No Quarter.
≡ Zachary Cale resides in New York City.
•• Duskland LP/CD — No Quarter (2015)
•• Low Light Roughs CS — All Hands Electric (2014)
•• Blue Rider LP/CD — All Hands Electric/JellyFant (2013)
•• Love Everlasting 7″ — Dull Knife (2012)
•• Noise of Welcome LP/CD — All Hands Electric/Adagio830 (2011)
•• Come Quietly 7″ — All Hands Electric (2010)
•• Walking Papers LP/CD — All Hands Electric (2008)
•• Outlander Sessions LP/CD — New World of Sound (2005)
Press: No Quarter:
•Ξ• “With this heavy surname, Zachary Cale carries a lot of weight as a singer of deep, lyrically provocative imagery, some of which touches on the mystery of love and power of desire, as well as longing and the blues…This album nests itself in this liminal space between love and loss, desire and fulfillment, emotions imagined and unrealized.” — NEW YORK MAGAZINE
•Ξ• “Blue Rider is an album of rich textures and intimate melodies, a gorgeous collection of songs that bristle with enthralling, understated details.” — AMERICAN SONGWRITER
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