Admittedly, Baltimore-based singer/songwriter Cass
McCombs resides well below the surface as far as wider recognition is
concerned. However that doesn’t mean he’s reluctant to make amends. After
releasing the solemn Wit’s End earlier this year, he’s back with his second album in approximately six months,
a sign he’s clearly both prolific and proficient.
As always, McCombs isn’t easy to pin down; one moment
he’s purveying sheer anarchy via the noisy lead-off tune “Love Thine Enemy,”
the next, he’s settling into a state of mellow repose, ala follow-up track “The
Living Word.” Fortunately, there’s no
sign of uncertainty; the steady pulse that underscores “The Same Thing,”
“Mystery Mail” and “Meet Me at the Mannequin” reflect confidence and
consistency. The biggest revelation comes in terms of attitude; where Wit’s End was dark and despondent, Humor Risk, while hardly jovial, shows
he’s more upbeat, if not all-out optimistic.
That McCombs is seeking a specialized niche seems all too
obvious, even though his sound flirts with being elusive. Humor Risk, as its title implies, finds McCombs on a precipice, but
if he continues to take bold steps, then the only way he can evolve is up.
DOWNLOAD: “The Living Word,”
“Mystery Mail” LEE ZIMMERMAN