Songs like "Karaoke" are a god-level burst of powerpop perfection, as fetching as anything Cass has ever cut: Cass triangulates a perch of his very own out among The Go-Betweens, The dB's, and The Cure,and vibrates there, a beacon. And then, of course, there is the song's playful if painful lyrical conceit — the lover who is making all the sacred motions of commitment but whose feelings may be no more deep or real than someone simply reading the lyrics for "Vision of Love" or "Stand by Your Man" from some crowded bar's TV screen.
Cass recorded these songs in multiple sessions on both coasts, in Brooklyn and Burbank. The great Shahzad Ismaily not only cut the staggering "Unproud Warrior" and four others here but also played lots of bass. Buddy Ross tracked "New Earth," a paean of post- humanity renewal with several sharp wisecracks. Ariel Rechtshaid — now a dozen years into his collaboration with Cass, which began with 2009's Catacombs—captured Cass' scintillating guitars on "Belong to Heaven," a thoughtful consideration of what we all lose when we lose an old friend to the inevitable end. The steadfast Rob Schnapf (who previously produced McCombs' ANTI- debut, Mangy Love) mixed and merged it all. Wynonna Judd (yes, that one) offers harmonies, while her beau Cactus Moser provides some lap steel. Joe Russo, Kassa Overall, Danielle Haim, Nestor Gomez are featured on the album, too.
Tracks: Music Is Blue / Karaoke / New Earth / Unproud Warrior / Krakatau / A Blue, Blue Band / Belong To Heaven / Heartmind