Hard to believe, but the Cave Singers have Pretty Girls Make Graves in their family tree. As you can probably surmise by my amazement, there’s little comparison between the two as the Cave Singers forgo any inclination of punk revival (like PGMG) and ponder dirt roads, rolling fields, and red barns instead.
It’s that Americana surprise that draws you into their second full-length, Welcome Joy, and there’s some interesting things that may get you to revisit it a time or two. But those repeated spins also begin to open up some major concerns on authenticity. To put it bluntly, there’s just something that doesn’t feel right about this. To date, I’ve only had one friend move from Seattle to the rural comforts of Iowa, and that was for spiritual purposes. So when Seattle native and lead-Cave Singer Derek Fudesco starts donning overalls, adding washboards to the mix and singing “I’m in the field / The summer is gone” (“Hen Of The Woods”), forgive me for wondering if he’s not being completely honest with us on his true longitude.
Because this is music where honesty is key, and if he thinks by adding a few rustic treatments here and there that the Cave Singers will suddenly become legitimate contenders in an already crowded Americana field then I feel the need to question it.
There’s nothing wrong with Fudesco’s voice, as a matter of fact, it’s strangely intriguing. During the first few bars of the opener “Summer Windows,” I immediately thought of Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again” from Rumors. Fudesco has this weird Lindsey Buckingham thing to his voice, and there are moments when I swear I hear a little bit of Stevie Nicks too.
But Lindsey wouldn’t be content with an album full of two-chords repeated over and over and, as Rumors pointed out, he’s not one to pull punches with songs fostered from real life dramas. I don’t know where the songs of Welcome Joy are fostered from, but I do know there’s a difference between something that sounds from the heart versus something that sounds good on paper.