belated Tunes: Cass McCombs, “County Line”

Download: Cass McCombs, “County Line”

Cass McCombs’ 2011 Wit’s End is a hushed, lonely, and hauntingly drawn out affair. The songs are deliberately slow, and whatever murky mixture of loneliness and absolute despair McCombs seems to be drowning in, he effectively creates that same submerged, desolate space around the listener. Few artists seek to dole out such an intentional blend of heartache and creepiness; this year, no one has done it better than McCombs.

The opening track, “County Line”, doesn’t reek of Poe as does the rest of the album (“Memory’s Stain” might be the most Poe-like). But its accessibility doesn’t hamper its ability to invoke the feelings of blinding heartache, unrequited desire. McCombs’ vocals are prominent, and the resulting “natural” sound makes his peril believable. And the instrumentals are absolutely languid, matching the same reluctant yet inevitably, tragically progressing narrative. Brilliance, but of the most black and purple sort.