Clay Cantrell - Barren Form Cassette
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Clay Cantrell’s music came to our attention several years ago through his first two tape releases on the late, great House of Alchemy label. Those tapes with their ragged, dream-folk qualities were such a striking anomaly amongst that label’s more predominant noise-improv roster, but we could never quite shake how eerily compelling those initial tapes were. Cantrell would go on to quietly self-release a few other albums in the ensuing years, one being an LP entitled Songs of Wine & Scythes with the backing group Band of Borges, a title and moniker that underscored the literary thrust that his songwriting revealed as the fog of reverb started to clear around his vocals. Here we are three years on from that last album and Cantrell has penned his most poignant and direct release to date in Barren Form, a collection of acoustic songs about desolation, desperation, desire, and dreams. With minimal instrumental accompaniment, Cantrell draws from real people (“James Agee”) and places (“Jackson”) and from more abstract emotional complexities (“See Rock City”) to capture vivid scenes that bear a distinctive dusted-up, open road quality to them. With Barren Form, Cantrell offers convincing proof that he should be positioned right alongside other notable contemporary singer-songwriters such as Damien Jurado, Phil Elverum, James Toth, Bill Callahan, and Mark Kozelek at the big dance. Don’t be late to the party!