Kacy & Clayton – The Siren’s Song
New West – 27 April 2018
Kacy & Clayton have been around for a while, releasing their first album The Day is Past & Gone in 2013 and following this up with Strange Country three years later. Their first couple of records were acoustic-based recordings covering some more traditional folk songs. Over the space of five years, they’ve made the transition from folk to rock, from traditional to original, it’s a well-trodden route following in the path of The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane or Country Joe and the Fish over fifty years ago.
I recall the late John Peel after playing a Country Joe and The Fish track announcing something along the lines of ‘just two notes from (guitarist) Barry Melton, and it’s 1967 again’.
I had the same sensation just four bars into Kacy & Clayton’s excellent new release The Siren’s Song, the first track Light of Day opens with stinging guitar with a wide vibrato, it almost came as a slight shock when Grace Slick failed to start singing so convincing was Clayton’s recreation of the San Francisco sound. A shock but not a disappointment though, Light of Day sets the bar pretty high alternating vocals that swoop and soar with emotive guitar breaks. And in under three minutes, it’s all over.
Kacy & Clayton are second cousins, not from the west coast but landlocked Saskatchewan Canada, also the home of the magnificent Deep Dark Woods. And there’s the link, Clayton Linthicum was previously their guitarist adding his flashes of brilliance to Ryan Boldt’s songs. Clayton is one of those rare musicians like Richard Thompson or even Peter Green whose mastery of tone and emotion touches the parts other players can’t reach.
Amazingly his musical partner Kacy Anderson is equally talented occupying a place somewhere in a Venn diagram which includes Judy Dyble, Sandy Denny and Joni Mitchell. She is blessed with a voice that can cross octaves and negotiate all kinds of difficult twists and turns without coming across as contrived, her singing is emotive but never predictable.
With just nine tracks The Siren’s Song is not going to outstay its welcome, there is a remarkable restraint being shown by the musicians throughout and for a record that can do folky and trippy it’s also surprisingly muscular. The summery vibe of a west coast sound (think Quicksilver Messenger Service, not The Eagles) has a darker sourer undercurrent in the lyrics. The Light of Day seems to relate to emotional repression.
Keep your thoughts to yourself and you’ll be fine
Don’t let them see the light of day
Tell the people what they want to hear
And you’ll always find the right thing to say
In This World have Seven Wonders Kacy details her dissolution and alienation moving to the big city
There’s two kinds of people living in this Galaxy
Everybody Else and me
The duo are very capable at harmonising quite beautifully, but it is Clayton who takes lead vocals for White Butte Country a psychedelic rocker with tongue in cheek lyrics celebrating the single life.
The hills of White Bute Country
Are a pleasant sight to see
But the girls in White Bute Country
Have the same Grandpa as me
The couple have not left the acoustics completely behind, on Cannery Yard Clayton plays some pretty convincing raga guitar backing Kacy’s violin and see saw vocals. The album finishes with restrained, affecting and rather lovely Go and Leave Me. Just guitar and vocal, this is the only non-original here being a traditional song they discovered via Norma Waterson. It’s the perfect album closer.
The whole affair is produced by Jeff Tweedy of Wilko who does a job that all producers should aspire to namely letting the artists get on with it. Tweedy has created a warm live feeling sound and captured some exemplary performances. Special mention to Mike Silverman on drums and Shuyler Jansen on bass who are not only great players but sound like they are having fun.
Although it was the 60’s psychedelic folk stylings that drew me into these recordings the music is both older than that and far younger than that. Still in their 20’s, Kacy & Clayton are operating at a point where youth, experience, inspiration, enthusiasm, energy and talent are all combining to work together in the creation of something new and stimulating. The Siren’s Song is both accomplished and fresh, it’s the sound of summer, but there’s still a chill in the air. They are about to go on tour with The Deep Dark Woods in Britain which could be the best billing of the year. If, like me, you were always a bit disappointed that Fairport Convention never made another record with Judy Dyble look no further. This is your next favourite album.
The Siren’s Song out now in the UK on 27 April via New West
UK Tour Dates:
1 May – Nottingham – The Maze
2 May – Oxford – The Bullingdon *
3 May – London – Bush Hall*
7 May – Belfast – Cathedral Quarter Arts Fest (Venue TBA)
8 May – Glasgow – Broadcast*
9 May – Liverpool – Leaf *
10 May – Newcastle – The Cluny 2*
11 May – York – The Crescent*
12 May – Bedford – Ent Shed*
12 May – Brighton – The Prince Albert*
15 May – Bristol – The Tunnels *
16 May – Winchester – The Railway*
*with The Deep Dark Woods