Cady Wire

Ten Acres

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Much of the first album from the N.Y.C. progressive country band Cady Wire is spare and mournful, languidly so. Singer, songwriter, and chief musician Sam Riley offers sincere and serious songcraft and cuts a consistent character throughout: the voice all through Ten Acres is plainspoken, honest, sometimes casually vulgar; a more forlorn Springsteen in far more rural Appalachia. The album is musically minimalist and workmanlike, with guitar strums, lapsteel cries, and harmonicas like train whistles in the distance. Only occasionally, as on the hollow, echoing opening to "Tire Swing," does the music especially call attention to itself; otherwise the focus is on the spare poetry of Riley: "Half of me never felt so alive/The other half is dyin'," he sings on "Quarter Clyde," which alludes to a resignation to cuckoldry with lines like "I know you're tumblin' with another boy tonight." Ten Acres isn't a Riley solo effort, though; Nila Leigh, in some ways the Emmylou Harris to his Gram Parsons, harmonizes gorgeously with him on "The Wrought Iron Girl." Some of the songs proceed too slowly for their own good -- album opener "Joker in the Deck" and closer "Neptune Diner Blues" are far too lethargic for their placement -- and it's perhaps an acquired taste to appreciate the spaces and silences that populate the album. But Ten Acres is frequently beautiful in its spacious apprehensions of vast sadness and is recommended for fans of a country music that values life measured in "jukebox dollars and cigarette burns," in the words of "Neptune," and the honesty of dirt on hands, sweat on brows, and end of day quietude.

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