Had a chance to check Cale out live the other night and it prompted me to immediately circle back to this album, which had been awaiting review on my pile. Live, Cale came across with a troubadour's natural grace, striking a balance between Neil Young's furrowed intensity and the storyteller charm of 70's Tom Petty; but underneath that comfortable stage exterior there was something else that seemed to drive Cale's songs. Opening up into The Blue Rider it becomes clear that the syncopated folk-blues picking that dominates the album, utilizing a tuning favored by Skip James, gives his singer-songwriter routine a bit of heft. The album is stripped back musically from his last, and that austerity works wonderfully in Cale's favor, both live and on record. The songs have an unhurried air about them that puts Cale's picking and voice at the forefront, but lets organ and the skitter of drums creep in the background just off the periphery, pulling the album tight in a jacket of comforting ennui. Its not a flashy record, and that perfectly fine, Cale makes no moves to buff the songs into a shine that blinds the eyes, rather he lets his natural ease and proficiency with lyrics prove the best asset. Well worth a listen or five if you're looking for an album to cozy up with this fall.
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