“This is Music that the world needs.” says Tim O Brien about Cahalen Morrison & Eli West. He is not a man given outbursts of hyperbole. If his opinion is not good enough to have you sprinting to the nearest record shop or feverishly clicking on the iStore read on.
The press release tells me this is Old Time music styled for the 21st Century. Personally I categorise Old Time alongside fishing and football in the fun to play, tedious spectate section. If this is Old Time I might take up watching football or, god forbid, fishing.
Holy Coming of the Storm is as earthy as The Band’s ‘Brown’ album and as soulful as anything by Otis Redding; it strikes the perfect balance between the pristine cleanliness of Union Station and the rough and ready energy of the Old Time genre.
These guys can play. Multi-instrumentalists that between them they cover Lap Steel, Banjo, Guitar, Mandolin and Fiddle. And they can sing check out the 1:48 minute unaccompanied close harmonies of ‘Bloody Heart’ that would make Levon Helm or Ralph Stanley weep for joy. I’m not sure how two young guys manage to sound so world weary and wise.
In H&M trying to drown out Christmas with Eli and Cahalen turned up to eleven, two shop assisitants are staring at me. I now realize that while browsing for cheap shirts I have been wailing along in what can only be described as a catlike high tenor to ‘Jealous Sea’. The voice, a hint of John Martyn at his most mellow, transports you to a smoky late night kitchen session.
This album has really varied content from the divine lapsteel ‘Mary and the Soldier’ meets Jerry Douglas soundalike of ‘Kingsfold’ to the bluegrass swing of ‘Since You Leave’. The track I keep coming back to is ‘My Lover, Adorned’. The line:
“I’m not a man just a lowly cowhand, doing what any man would do.”
It gets me every time like a glimpse into the romance and harsh reality of Cormac McCarthy’s border trilogy. I would call this my number one folk album of the year.