Cape Snow - Cape Snow - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Cape Snow - Cape Snow

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2015-08-01

The foundations for Cape Snow were laid many years ago when Tiger Saw singer, Dylan Metrano recorded songs with Bree Scanlon, the partner of drummer, Sean Scanlon. Metrano was struck by Bree’s candescent voice and harmonies, sharing a consonance with other heartland torchlight singers such as Margo Timmins of Cowboy Junkies or Marissa Nadler. Those earlier songs didn’t see a release, but Bree Scanlon did occasionally sing with Tiger Saw when they toured California.

In 2013, Metrano and Scanlon decided to commit to their own recording project, and Cape Snow was born. In the modern way of collaborations, Scanlon sent various recordings of her voice she’d kept for posterity, and cleverly Metrano wrote lyrics to match the melodies and syntax of each song. 

Contributors to this adventure in remote control Americana include Dan Sullivan, guitarist with Songs:Ohia, Mara Flynn (who has worked with Jad Fair), providing vocal augmentation, and an amazing saxophonist, Andy Abelow, whose uncustomary playing gives his horn the tone quality of a flute. Further instrumentation on the album includes trumpet, cello, organ and xylophone. You’d be forgiven for being sceptical that all this is overkill, but like the band Low, the playing is all nuance and barely rises above a forest murmur.

Scanlon’s voice is paired beautifully with the intimacy of the music. Her timbre is similar to that of Margo Timmins, and the comparison extends to her ability to characterise the emotions laid out in the lyrics in an earthy rather than syrupy way. The song ‘Sweet Dreams’ is a great example. 

From the organ and cello lead off on ’All is Gold’, Scanlon narrates of her eternal hope for contentedness: "I’ve waited so long for a day like this/ made of understanding, lightning and a kiss/ each moment we’re stealing is infinitely healing/ my sweet valentine/ all is good". The keyboard’s rolling chords give the song a jauntiness which prevents the self-absorption from becoming cloying. In fac, the same could be said for the album overall.

The lightly plucked guitar prelude, and wistful saxophone playing (with that amazing flute-like quality) bring ‘One More Time’ out of Americana’s shadows and into the torchlight jazz dominion. Sweet bliss indeed. 

The tastefulness of the arrangements is further evidenced on ‘Amazing’ with its sustained keyboard with overlying muted trumpet, on ‘Flesh and Blood’, with subtle slide-guitar beseeching a yearning in the lyric, in the xylophone tinkering on ‘Sweet Dream’, the vibes playing nonchalantly across the background of ‘Swoon’, and most importantly, in the wonderful instrument which is Bree Scanlon’s voice, conveying the girlishness of Mazzy Star with the maturity of Mimi Parker of Low. 

Unreservedly recommended for those who like the artists referenced in this review. 

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