McCarthy Trenching is the vehicle for Dan McCarthy, a Nebraskan who's collaborated with Bright Eyes, Tilly and the Wall, and practically everyone else living in the Cornhusker State. This guy's friends with Conor Oberst, but don't expect any of Oberst's fragility or tremulousness on this disc. Like the longhorn steer on the album's cover, McCarthy's solid. He's methodical and deliberate, preferring a stoic growl to an angst-ridden moan. McCarthy writes about drinking, destitution, highways, and women, and he goes about it in a workmanlike fashion, one chord at a time, brick by brick. In fact, this is the single most pleasurable thing about listening to McCarthy's songs. He never forces things. The man takes his time, and it's a real treat to hear him mosey his way through a story. Comparisons to Gillian Welch, Will Oldham, Woody Guthrie, and Johnny Cash wouldn't be out of place; McCarthy writes songs that sound like they could have been written anytime in the past hundred years. "Wedding Song" sounds like a lost Guthrie track, what with the spare, meandering guitar licks and McCarthy's chagrined, world-weary vocals. Of course, it doesn't hurt that it's about a man who wants to "have a dobro daughter and a mandolin-pickin' son" just so he can "raise a real fine bluegrass band." And like Guthrie, as well as any other folk singer worth his salt (Arlo Guthrie and David Bromberg come to mind), McCarthy has a great sense of humor ("Michaela, I'm sorry. I wrecked your old jalopy/I was running from a hooker who said I owed her money"). His songs are rough-hewn, sturdy, and above all else comfortable.
AllMusic Review by Margaret Reges