John Cate

American Night

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For John Cate's second album, he chose to follow the lead of one of his heroes and cut a record on his four-track at home, as Bruce Springsteen did with Nebraska. The result is a very personal 11-song CD dedicated to his dad, Louis Caterine. American Night has enthusiastic compositions coupled with pure artistic expression, with the three other members who make up the John Cate Band providing sparse accompaniment. On "It's Allright," Cate shows that Springsteen isn't his only influence; the Bob Dylan vocals would make Cate a prime candidate for a Dylan tribute band. "Diamond Dust" is more original, the musicianship downright eerie. There's something to be said for impromptu recording -- the essence of the original impressions that created the songs is captured -- and if the liner notes didn't mention the lo-fi aspect (though additional recording was done at the professional Metropolis facility), the listener would be hard-pressed to think this wasn't a more expensive endeavor. According to the copyrights, the material was written between 1994 and 1998, and this is the only one of John Cate's annual album offerings to have a two-year space between its release and that which came before. It's commendable that an independent artist would release such an introspective album; as the Dylan and Springsteen types know, these kinds of projects reach a limited audience, but if Cate and his bandmates reach a higher level of success, this beautifully packaged material will be appreciated down the road.

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