Chris Cacavas

Bumbling Home From the Star

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Released three years after Dwarf Star, Bumbling Home From the Star introduces yet another backup band for Chris Cacavas. Ed Kampwirth (bass), Brandon Laws (drums), and Jesse Wilder (guitar, keys) are more than supporting musicians. Despite the fact that the album is billed as a solo effort, the music achieves a fully integrated group sound, much more than the singer's previous three solo efforts. That said, this is by no means a step back to the rock energy of Junkyard Love's records. This CD contains a set of finely crafted medium-tempo songs, part folky Neil Young (the obligatory comparison when writing about Cacavas), part post-Radiohead alternative rock production. Acoustic guitar, electric piano, slithery basslines, and earth-grounded drumming become the basic tools to give impetus to the singer's memorable melodies and sweet-and-sour lyrics. Of the first category we must retain "California (Into the Ocean)," "Saviour" (great trombone solo by Chris Colonier), and the opener "Sucker," slightly destabilizing thanks to a dreamy pace and artsy studio tricks that give it a flavor closer to Jay-Jay Johansson than anything else you could expect. But don't worry, that's not a consistent trend, and the album also includes a handful of pure soft folk-rock songs, "Awol" and "I Just Killed a Man" ranking high in Cacavas' songbook. The latter's chorus, "I just killed a man/And now I'm going to Disneyland," is more than a bon mot, it hits like a bullet. The lyrics to "Goodbye Friend" and "Exit Wound" are also excellent. Bumbling Home From the Star may feel a little more mature (as in "tempered") than previous albums, but it is a delight to unveil one track at a time, leaving its imprint in your ears -- the stuff classics are made of.

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