Tuesday, April 17, 2012

CD Review: “Sweeten The Distance” by Neal Casal

Neal casal

Sweeten the Distance

After joining Ryan Adams and the Cardinals in 2005, the alt-country rockers had their biggest success, commercially, with the album, Easy Tiger which reached #7 on the Billboard Charts and he was with the Cardinals when they backed Willie Nelson on the album, Song Bird . Neal Casal was already a road worthy veteran as solo artist long before that. Between 1994 and 2005, Casal had recorded nine critically acclaimed solo albums. Having left the Cardinals in 2010 (after Adams had left and the bands only remaining original member was the drummer) Casal is getting back in the solo saddle with Sweeten The Distance, which hit the streets on April 10.

As ‘right-at-home’ as Casals guitar and piano work felt in the Cardinals, Sweeten The Distance has him feeling like he is glad to be the boss again. The album shows him in full creative flight and not leaving any facet of pop/folk/psych folk/soft rock untouched. His guitar work is as good as ever, but it is his song writing and delivery, vocally, that make the album stand out.

On the title track, the lyric declares this freedom “Nothing’s gonna stop you now, everything you want is coming in good time”. Here’s the song solo, it is treated with full studio accompaniment on the album.

“Sweeten The Distance”

The songs on the album show many influences from vocals that bring to mind Neil Young to songs that channel Bob Dylan, but more than anything it is Casal stepping out into the lime light. The tunes are filled with sophisticated melodies, acoustic guitar textures that are meticulous, and multi-dimensional.  he shows his California roots with some fine psych-rock tunes such as “White Fence Round House’ and one of my favorites, with its beach atmosphere, “How Quiet It Got”.

“How Quiet It Got”

All in all, Sweeten the Distance is a sonic treat and contains many “radio worthy” songs that should help it grow legs. He’s touring both solo and as an important part of the band, Chris Robinson Brotherhood. Click here for dates.


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