The story of Fade Away Diamond Time is as rocky as one of the roads in Casal's rural country-rock songs. After a number of years as a struggling musician, including a stint as guitarist in the Southern rock band Blackfoot, he was signed in 1991 to a publishing contract with Warner/Chappell Music. He had enough songs at the time for an album, but it was felt they were not ready for release yet. In 1994, Bud Scoppa, who had been an ardent supporter of Casal's music, heard a tape of demos recorded that same year (of which one, "Don't Turn Your Back on Me," can be found on the 1997 outtakes release Field Recordings) and felt the time was right for Casal to be signed to the label he had just joined, Zoo Records. Yet, only five weeks after the signing, Scoppa was ousted from Zoo due to corporate downsizing. The label, surprisingly, let plans for the album continue, but basically ignored it. With a lesser experienced or talented artist, this might have resulted in a shoddy album, but it worked to Casal's advantage, as he was free to do whatever he wanted. Recording was done with producer Jim Scott and a fine array of musicians, including veteran session musician Bob Glaub on bass, in Palacio del Rio, a Spanish mansion near Santa Barbara that used to be Dean Martin's house. The idyllic setting proved perfectly suited for the music that resulted. Relaxed, timeless-sounding songs mixing elements of rock, country, and folk comprise the album. Casal's songs strongly evoke Jackson Browne and the Eagles' Southern California country-rock, along with the harder edge of Neil Young and Young's folk side. This is predominantly a band recording and the interplay of the musicians is very tight. It sounds like they're all playing together in a living room because, well, they are. Lyrically, the songs focus on interpersonal relationships and well-crafted character studies. The warm, bright "These Days With You" echoes Neil Young's "Long May You Run," while "Detroit or Buffalo" is an impassioned, take-no-prisoners song of restlessness and wanderlust. Despite his often-present influences, Casal is an adept songwriter in his own right, covering varied ground from the majestic rock of "Day in the Sun" to the introspective folk of "Bird in Hand" and the album-closing slow waltz of "Sunday River." The album was released to critical acclaim, but conversely, almost no support from the record label. Within a few months Casal was notified by phone in the Nashville bar where he was performing that he had been dropped from Zoo Records and that the tour was abruptly over. Within two months after that, Zoo itself was out of business. Though temporarily set back, Casal released Rain, Wind and Speed not long after in 1996.
AllMusic Review by Rob Caldwell