[sic] Magazine

The Cave Singers – Welcome Joy

‘Troglodyte Triumph’

Just as alt-country was declared dead at some point in early 2007, along came Band of Horses and the whole scene re-ignited. It subsumed as it went incorporating identifiably American singer-songwriting, anything bluesy and acoustic, folk and its many prefixed varieties, even bluegrass (see Indigo Moss). All were re-branded under all-enveloping Americana, hitting a commercial peak last year with Fleet Foxes’ runaway and campfire-friendly success.

Early on in this period, The Cave Singers released Invitation Songs. It laced credible, dreamy Americana through country-blues and plucky folk to the general indifference of most, sadly failing to capture the infectious foot-stomp of lead singer Pete Quirk’s hollerin’ live-show. It must be said, this Seattle-based trio were no revelation then, nor are they now.

Yet, despite having little with which to stake a claim in these beardy times, their minimalist chords, electric picking and washboard percussion are still effective, even when set against the current over-abundance of such practitioners. Welcome Joy has learnt from its predecessor’s mistakes. Where Invitation Songs could be criticised for being too like sepia-toned wallpaper, Welcome Joy seems to rejoice in the same fact. It is more electric, in both its senses. Generous lifting from their more-successful peers’ harmonies works well on ‘Hen Of The Woods’, but perhaps elsewhere suffers from having paid too much attention. Occasionally, the same blandish anonymity crops up that plagued small parts of Fleet Foxes’ eponymous long-player.

Welcome Joy is ultimately however an enjoyable, hammock-swaying, porch dwelling easy listen. The electrified picking of ‘Leap’ soars sunrise-like over the prairie bringing a warm smile to all those that hear it. The nodding quality of ‘VV’ recalls effortless practitioners of folk-influenced pop such as Belle & Sebastian and Aberfeldy. The crying melancholy of closer ‘Bramble’ is coolly affecting. Welcome Joy is literally, if quietly, that.