Nick Castro & the Young Elders

Come into Our House

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For his third album, Nick Castro adopts yet another new backing band, the Young Elders. They lend a loose, experimental, and especially relaxed feel to Castro's style of gorgeous psychedelic folk on Come into Our House, which creates a deeply mystical soundscape that feels like a world of medieval fantasy. The album draws from several distinct schools of folk music, including the late '60s British folk scene dominated by Bert Jansch and Nick Drake, as well as Celtic folk. It starts out with three songs in an Irish vein, which sound virtually like continuations of one another; all share a similar chord structure, casually beautiful guitar picking, and a pondering, dreamlike aesthetic. About half the songs are instrumentals, which range from fairly straightforward ("Picolina") to transcendentally eclectic ("Voices from the Mountain") to extensively improvisational ("Lay Down Your Arms"). It is during these that the ever-present whistles and piano, as well as the more obscure instruments -- the oud, dumbek, and rik, for example -- get utilized to full effect and, reaching subtle lows and expressive highs, achieve a thoroughly engaging sound. The scratchy, creaky feel of the strings on the almost sub-rhythmic "Voices from the Mountain" make the track into perhaps the album's most starkly reflective piece, centered perfectly in the middle as an interlude to the relatively brief, sweet "Standing on the Standing Stone." In general, the pacing of Castro's gradual morphing through various styles works quite well, with the longer tracks spread out amidst shorter, more simple tracks. Vocally, he sounds reserved and mild without slipping into blandness, though he gets ample help from co-vocalist Wendy Watson, who fills out many songs with enlivening harmony. Watson also sings lead on a fantastic cover of Appalachian folksinger Jean Ritchie's "One I Love." Despite the fact that Nick Castro & the Young Elders certainly make the spirit of the music their own on Come into Our House, ultimately they add little to the vast psych-folk pantheon, instead making a solid, majestic album rooted firmly in what has come before.

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