11 Songs, 39 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rising from the ashes of the atmospheric pop of Pretty Girls Make Graves, garage-rockers Murder City Devils, and the gloomy Hint Hint, Seattle’s Cave Singers somehow ended up with a neu-folk (or neo-folk?) sound, much in the vein of Iron and Wine or Great Lake Swimmers. The trio isn’t afraid to do a little American roots deconstruction, and the results are impressive: they build interesting songs using Spartan instrumentation and unique arrangements, letting each (mostly) acoustic instrument speak for itself. Vocalist Pete Quirk finds a gentler side to the sneery vocals he used in Hint Hint, expressing himself with more of a nasal, hillbilly purr, which works to great effect on delicate songs such as “Helen,” “Elephant Clouds” and “Seeds of Night,” with their gentle, brushed toms, lacy, finger-picked guitar work, and lonely kick drums. “Cold Eye” plays like a lullaby; absent any percussion, the song floats along on Quirk’s withered vocal with minimal guitar and the occasional sparkle of a tambourine.  While there is plenty to admire here, the single “Dancing on Our Graves” — a spare, stomping, washboard-accented number that evokes the darker side of fervent spiritual exhortation — is astoundingly habit-forming. Invitation Songs is quietly powerful, and quite remarkable.

EDITORS’ NOTES

Rising from the ashes of the atmospheric pop of Pretty Girls Make Graves, garage-rockers Murder City Devils, and the gloomy Hint Hint, Seattle’s Cave Singers somehow ended up with a neu-folk (or neo-folk?) sound, much in the vein of Iron and Wine or Great Lake Swimmers. The trio isn’t afraid to do a little American roots deconstruction, and the results are impressive: they build interesting songs using Spartan instrumentation and unique arrangements, letting each (mostly) acoustic instrument speak for itself. Vocalist Pete Quirk finds a gentler side to the sneery vocals he used in Hint Hint, expressing himself with more of a nasal, hillbilly purr, which works to great effect on delicate songs such as “Helen,” “Elephant Clouds” and “Seeds of Night,” with their gentle, brushed toms, lacy, finger-picked guitar work, and lonely kick drums. “Cold Eye” plays like a lullaby; absent any percussion, the song floats along on Quirk’s withered vocal with minimal guitar and the occasional sparkle of a tambourine.  While there is plenty to admire here, the single “Dancing on Our Graves” — a spare, stomping, washboard-accented number that evokes the darker side of fervent spiritual exhortation — is astoundingly habit-forming. Invitation Songs is quietly powerful, and quite remarkable.

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