Kyle Cashen, part of the Whitehorse power trio Friend Called Five, has released a long-awaited, full-length CD of original songs under the banner of Crash the Car.
A comparison, albeit unfair, to Neil Young’s Harvest album, rose to mind while I was listening to They Built Houses Here for the first time. There is something about Cashen’s record that harks back to Young’s recording of 38 years ago.
Is it the resonance of songs such as Building or the way the chorus of We Don’t Always Have Light cycles near the end? There is honesty in his voice and immediacy of music that hit me at a gut level.
Cashen, the main driver of this project, is supported by an incredible group of fellow travelers that constitute, what I would humbly consider, some of the finest Yukon Indie musicians.
Micah Smith handles the bass, Ken Hermanson contributes lap steel guitar, Fiona Solon adds her vocal talents to the mix and multi-instrumentalists Jordy Walker and Walter Bloodway fill in the audio cracks with various keys, strings and electronics.
Cashen has taken his music from a place of simplicity — the artist alone with his instrument — to a place where others can share in the music and contribute: the studio environment.
Bloodway’s production of the album and Walker’s mix are the final keys to this venture.
Dappled with sound from the almost imperceptible percussion and delicate tones, both discordant and harmonious, to consuming and cyclical mantras, the arrangement of the songs is as important to the tone of this album as the music itself.
After listening to the album a couple of times, I started to hear the deeper music. One pass through these songs would be a crime.
Windows, water and wire reflecting on the past and holding back clear communication, whispering to the floor while you make a path in it are all themes that Cashen explores within this album.
The song writing is a model of quiet urgency, somewhat moody with a voice that begs for understanding in a peripheral world that evades perception. These elements are fused seamlessly to create a tone that sets in motion a cascade of images receding in a rear view mirror, forever illusive.
Heavy stuff for a young musician: to be responsible for your creation, the minds of your listeners. Ain’t that what an art is about?
I feel Cashen knows exactly what he is doing and he is not asleep at the wheel.
Simply put, Cashen has hit upon a sound that no musical GPS can pinpoint: there are no maps for these territories.
This album is a strong beginning to what I hope will be a long and prolific career.
They Built Houses Here will be released on Nov. 19. Look for it at your favourite local CD purveyor.
Check out Crash the Car on the web at www.crashthecar.ca or listen to select cuts at www.myspace.com/crashthecar.