Sample “Remember What It’s Like” from NO WISH TO REMINISCE by Neal Casal
Dear Music Appreciators,
Neal Casal might be the most undervalued American singer-songwriter alive. If you’re serious about discovering the man and his music, Google his name and check out his website and any other Casal-related paths the internet might take you down. Here is an artist that deserves a little more love from American music fans – something the Europeans have been beating us at for years now.
This, his ninth full length solo release, finds him exploring new sounds with producer Michael Deming (Beachwood Sparks, Silver Jews). Overall, the album feels like a trippy, fuzzed-out journey through loss and longing, doubt and regret. This is a lovely, lonely song cycle that seems to unwind on a sunny day’s death into a black-silhouette sunset and a night of cold white stars.
No Wish to Reminisce trades the acoustic sounds and country-rock flavors of Casal’s earlier releases for pop-rock psychedelic tones containing whirly organ work, dramatic violins, and Beatle-esque guitar flourishes. Standout tracks include “Grand Island,” “Sundowntown,” “Remember What It’s Like,” and “Freeway to the Canyon.” The singer’s talent for long, resonate vocal phrases is on full display throughout the album, suggesting he might be able to keep up with wailers like Robert Plant and Axl Rose if he wanted to.
My only complaint lies with the indulgent closing instrumental track “Saw Stars.” I think this kind of thing is put to better effect as short instrumental breaks sprinkled throughout the album (see Jay Farrar’s solo albums), or with an opening instrumental track could work as bookends, but here this just feels tacked on and too late to make an effective impression on most listeners. But this is a relatively minor offense I suppose given the otherwise cohesive statement this record makes.
Overall this is a masterful presentation of the singer’s psyche through psychedelic kaleidoscope.