Opening with the deep rattling lope of "That's Why" and then segueing into the bright and lovelorn Celtic flavors of "Lost in the Tide," the Cave Singers' fifth album, 2016's Banshee, finds the group stretching their boundaries on all sides, adding a greater electric force to the performances while deepening the dynamics of their indie-folk side. Lead vocalist and guitarist Pete Quirk has the instincts and attitude of a rocker, but he also knows how to work with the dynamics of his bandmates, and he's keenly aware of the mood as well as the volume of the music, while guitarist Derek Fudesco, bassist Morgan Henderson, and drummer Marty Lund frequently demonstrate how much evocative power can be generated by four people on these sessions. Producer and engineer Randall Dunn is a valuable collaborator on Banshee, giving the music a sound that's rich and spacious but free of clutter, and the production well suits the dynamics of these songs. Though most of the tunes on Banshee lean more to the folkie side of the Cave Singers' repertoire than their rock & roll inclinations, the fuzzy clank of "The Swimmer" and the reverb-addled stomp of "Christmas Night" demonstrate these guys still know how to rock the joint with the amps turned low, while also respecting the darker and broader atmospheres of their more subtle but similarly powerful numbers. The Cave Singers financed the recording of Banshee through a crowd-funding campaign and made the album without any interference from A&R people, and the finished product shows the group understands very well what works for them. Banshee is a smart and impressive piece of work that speaks to the mind and the soul with similar clarity. ~ Mark Deming
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