Listening to McCarthy Trenching, it is easy to see why Conor
Oberst snapped this Omaha band up for his label, Team Love. The band’s loose-limbed
country-rock sound and front man Dan McCarthy’s observations on everything from
the abandoned mix tape on the side of the road or lighting a fire with your
beloved are direct and understated in a way that Oberst seems unable to reach.
As well, there’s McCarthy infusing this album with such a
feeling of lightness and playfulness that it’s frankly a little shocking. Too
many artists this early on in their career have this urge to sound so serious
and determined. McCarthy, on the other hand, sounds like his career in music is
just a lark. He plays with singing off the beat, putting the emphasis on
unexpected words and generally sounding like he recorded his vocals after a
long nap and a beer.
The weight that holds this music to the ground is in McCarthy’s
lyrics, which spell out the small heartbreaks and joys of life. Whether he’s
singing about leaving religion behind (“Mormon Girl Blues”) or asking
the woman in his life to stick around just a little bit longer (“Roasting
Song”), he infuses it with the small, pointed details (the crack of a beer
can, the cassette deck pilfered from Mom) that draw you in to his tale, not to
mention giving you an in to relate his tales to your own life. He has all the
makings of a great songwriter, and in many ways he already is one. I can’t wait
to see and hear where he goes next.
Standout tracks: “Scoop
Shovel Blues,” “Cassette Tape Massacre” ROBERT HAM