Cardinal – Hymns

January 01, 1970

(Fire)

 

www.firerecords.com

 

If this duo hadn’t floundered so far below the radar the
first time around, it/s possible that Hymns would have been hailed as the reunion album of the year. However, given the
fact that their 1994 self-titled debut barely registered a buzz initially, only
those who found admiration in retrospect are likely to find appreciation this
time around. No matter really; as reconvened 17 years later, Cardinal shows
their hushed melodies and chamber pop sensibilities gel just as well now as
they did originally.

 

The band’s two principals, Oregonian Eric
Matthews and Australian Richard Davies, meld their talents with a subdued
enthusiasm, yielding quiet harmonies and a lush yet low-lit blend of muted
brass, acoustic guitars and discreet keyboards. The result might be best
described as an uncanny cross between the Byrds, the Left Banke and the Green
Pajamas in symbiotic retro mode. Not surprisingly then, the subdued tones
conveyed through songs like “Her,” “Rosemary Livingstone,” Northern Soul” and
“Radio Birdman” are precious by design, but still more pop-centric than the
somber, sobering efforts either individual would later advance on his own.
Notably, “Love Like the Rain” and “I Am a Roman Gypsy” actually shore up some
enthusiasm, bringing them to the brink of a rocky rave-up, at least by Cardinal
standards.

 

Indeed, in hindsight, Hymns is a more cohesive effort than
that long ago debut, even with all its circumspect. So here’s to second
chances, and the hope that this time around, Cardinal might actually take
flight.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Northern Soul,” “Love Her Like the Rain,” “Radio Birdman” LEE Zimmerman

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