Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Cass McCombs remains as earnest and heartfelt as ever on Heartmind

"Heartmind"

Release date: 19 August 2022
8/10
Cass Mc Combs Heartmind
22 August 2022, 00:00 Written by Janne Oinonen
Email

On first glimpse, these songs from Cass McCombs can seem simple, predictable even. Such first impressions are misleading.

“Karaoke” pitches itself as a clever love song staged amidst boozy assassinations of pop classics (‘’are you going to Stand By Your Man?’’ etc.). Listen closer, and the bouncy '80s alt-pop earworm vibes of the song hide deeper ruminations about the authenticity of our emotions: are we actually feeling it, or are we hollowly mimicking what is expected of us? The slow-burn Pentangle-go-country-psych swing of “Unproud Warrior” unfurls like a standard issue character study of a regretful former soldier. Yet as the song’s gorgeously unhurried rumble – decorated deliciously by the mournful fiddle and backing vocals of Charlie Burnham – progresses, McCombs gradually discards every cliché related to the limits of individual choice you might associate with the protagonist’s circumstances (‘’a soldier is not a cog, but a man like any other’’) without ever losing sight of the song’s humanity and compassion. McCombs isn’t being clever for the sake of it: the complexity adds to the songs’ emotional resonance.

Written for a departed friend, the sublimely smooth Yacht Rock glide of “Belong To Heaven” – including a, er, heavenly chorus of singers to catapult McComb’s warm conversational tones into higher regions of loveliness – proves McCombs is just as apt in emotional directness, drawing a moving portrait of a complicated human being who is equal parts ‘’totally lunar’’ and ‘’a grease fire burning bright’’ in a few tight verses. Remarkably, Heartmind coheres into a seamless album despite cruising unpredictably from the angularly crunchy King Crimson/Tortoise post-prog-rock blend of “Music Is Blue” to the heavy-lidded, liquid flow of the title track’s extended cosmic jam (with hints of the ageless beauty of John Martyn’s “Small Hours”) via the percussive calypso vibes of “Krakatau”.

Heartmind
is aptly titled: these are ultimately earnest and heartfelt, deeply felt songs. Yet the mind – the brain’s capacity to twist reality into complicated concepts questioning the seemingly obvious – gets an equal billing in McCombs’s writing. The infectious results deserve to elevate McCombs beyond his durable cult hero status.

Share article
Email

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next
News
Listen
Reviews