Vetiver To Find Me Gone

[DiCristina Stairbuilders; 2006]

Rating: 5/5

Styles: soft rock, folk, ballads
Others: Devendra Banhart, Fleetwood Mac, The Warm Inventions, Nick Drake

Andy Cabic's music with Vetiver works in a very particular way. It's far from unusual sounding, and it can be very saccharine in its appeal ”” yet there's something very piqued about it. Vetiver's self-titled debut was a fetching thing indeed: the sad and the wistful trading fours amongst some of the most delicately, ungarishly resplendent arrangements offered on a modern folk rock release. Well, I'm pleased to announce that Vetiver's second long-player has that same slow-burn prowess, carrying the charming subtleties that will make it an endearing part of your music collection for years to come. It's got the same lightness, that same gentle yet firm feel that many of us fell in love with previously. It's handsome folk music, to be sure. But it's, degree by degree, handsome folk music with some real character and depth going for it.

As I write this, I've absorbed To Find Me Gone seven or eight times and I cannot find fault with a single element of it. While the album may not have the instant hooks of the previous album ("Belles," "Angels Share," and "Amerilie"), it strengthens their take on the lived-in, ambling feel ever-present in the music of Brightblack, Califone, and (occasionally) My Morning Jacket. That is to say, the new Vetiver is considerably more consistent in tone from track to track. These dusty tunes don't demand much of the listener, yet they have a way of opening up in your head more and more with repeated listens. Much like Seekonk's Pinkwood album, these songs benefit from a healthy smattering of idyllic instrumental passages and unexpected flourishes. It's a luxurious space, where no one element takes precedence over the other. I suppose I should also mention the lyrics. While some of them may feel clichéd or trite when observed, they are delivered with just the right amount earnestness so that you can just go along with it. Though Cabic's voice itself is nothing truly rare, his particularly refined restraint is unmatched amongst most any of the modern folk singers I've encountered. I imagine he could sing a grocery list and make it endearing.

Aside from being disappointed that Hope Sandoval or Joanna Newsom hadn't returned for this foray (two artists I'm anxiously anticipating more music from), my only reservation is perhaps that Cabic saw fit to hold back his sweeter side. As the blissful closing section of "Double" will show, he is Aces at selling these syrupy kinds of melodies. These earthier tracks, while unwaveringly involving, could come across as somewhat overly somber out of context. But this is a silly, irrelevant qualm. And "Belles" was such a succulent treat that it seemed to eclipse the rest of the album anyway. On here, everything is so resoundingly of a piece, that favorite moments will likely be within songs or shifts from one to the other. There's the one-two punch of "Red Lantern Girls" and "Won't Be Me," for example. The dark, Six Organs-like freak-out toward the end of the former dissipates quite marvelously into the jubilant canter of the latter.

So, what we have is something rare indeed: a perfect album. I wouldn't want to trivialize it by calling it "the breezy, blissful soundtrack to your summer," though it could very well work in this way. Really it's just a fine album, one you can put on and relax to and soak in for 45 minutes without a moments reservation. It's a mellowing out record, but lest you concern yourself with ripening and rotting, it's also a rich album with a stirring sense of homecoming, both abstractly and literally. It's an undeniably soulful, unhurried record well deserving your close attention and ”” by all means ”” your hard-earned money. So I'd suggest, if you're interested, that you skip the downloading for this one and just go to the DiCristina site and order this puppy up.

1. Been So Long
2. You May Be Blue
3. No One Word
4. Idle Ties
5. I Know No Pardon
6. Maureen
7. The Porter
8. Double
9. Red Lantern Girls
10. Won't Be Me
11. Down At El Rio