Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Andrew Cashen, Back in Texas, 2019

Album Review

I'm back in Texas. The coolfamily and I are in Houston visiting CooMom's dad for a few days over spring break. Coincidentally, I've spent the last few days listening to the debut, solo release, Back in Texas, from Andrew Cashen (A Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit). A portion of that listening happened on Easter Sunday as I took advantage of the nice weather to try and head out for a run. I hesitate to call this a return to the old "Sunday Run Album Review" feature, but we'll see.


After over a decade of working and writing with his A Giant Dog / Sweet Spirit bandmate, Sabrina Ellis, Andrew Cashen goes it alone for the first time on Back in Texas. Most of the songs on the record feature Cashen's crooner-y baritone -- think the opening lines to A Giant Dog's "Bendover" -- paired with soulful and spacious 60s-style arrangements.

The title track kicks things off in highly danceable fashion with its bluesy vibe set against a chorus of horns and backing vocals. Easygoing single "Frank Sinatra's Yacht" contrasts lush string arrangements and an exotic, tropical feel with a sense of feeling hemmed in by a place. "There's no one to impress here / And nothing to achieve."

"Have It Made" is tight and bouncing, layering keys and vocals; while "Darling Will You" is beautifully wide-open and cinematic. "Dance All Night," with its string and horn arrangements, is a sophisticated version of a barroom rocker. It combines sweaty energy with buttoned-up class.

Cashen abandons the baritone for a slightly higher register on the dreamy and idyllic "Paradise;" but he comes back down to reality, and wants to make sure his partner is on the same page, on the grittier "Be Your Love." The closing credits roll over the western-inspired "Sunshine."

Cashen and his co-producers Graham Low (A Giant Dog) and Josh Merry (Sweet Spirit) have packed some varied and beautiful sounds into the short 22-minute run-time of Back in Texas. The 8 songs span several genres of retro pop, but they all hang together like scenes in a movie with themes of loneliness, love, and place cropping up again and again.

Back in Texas is out now on Nine Mile Records.

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