Sample “Cold Waves” from ROOTS AND WINGS by Neal Casal
You may know him as the lead guitarist for Ryan Adams and The Cardinals but Neal Casal is actually one of the most underappreciated singer-songwriters living in the U.S. today. For sixteen years now he has been releasing high-quality albums that have been esteemed by an international audience while going largely unnoticed by our fellow Americans. Casal has often been described as hailing from a 1970’s Southern California singer-songwriter/country rock tradition and has been compared to the likes of Gram Parsons, Neil Young, and The Eagles.
Roots & Wings is Neal Casal’s eleventh full-length solo release and he describes it as his best work to date. I concur. The album moves through its seventeen tracks as smoothly as hot summer days move into cool summer nights and back again. This is one of those albums where every song is listenable. No need to touch the skip button on this one.
Opening track “The Losing End Again” is a bouncy, mid-tempo number that kicks things off with the kind of acoustic guitar, pedal steel, and organ that has become essential to the signature Casal sound. “Tomorrow’s Sky” has a powerfully moody, foreboding quality and is a one-man showcase with the singer accompanying himself on guitar. “So Far Astray” turns into a kind of poppy, big-production 1960’s gem with Neal vaulting into high-lonesome Roy Orbison territory when he sings the memorable chorus. Other standout tracks include “Hereby the Sea,” “The Cold and the Darkness,” and “Cold Waves” – which, taken together seem to point toward the dark, cold ocean as metaphor for the lonesome-longing heart that beats all the way through this remarkably lovely album. One man singing his own beautiful songs beautifully. I love it.