For those seeking relief from this excruciating heat, let the new work of folk crooner Cass McCombs wash over you like a bucket of cool water. No, it’s not the same as standing in front of a blasting air conditioner vent, but for the musical mind, it has a similar effect.
McCombs has returned to his onetime home on his tour supporting his new album, “Wit’s End,” which was released in May. He has walked back through the door—or sauntered, rather—calm and composed. This new work hangs in a much lower and more somber place than before, requiring full attention from the listener, or rather full immersion. Without this, the bubbling blister of emotion beneath these songs won’t pop.
Admittedly, “Wit’s End” is not just a cool splash of water. It is downright drenched in distress; very much an album for the lonely. McCombs has always been on the quieter side, though never this dark before. His last album, “Catacombs,” softly encircled the beauty of love. It begged to be listened to on a rooftop with candles and entwined hands. This new album places the listener alone and restless in bed at night, thinking too much to go to sleep. Though there is an undeniable gloom here, it is also beautiful and stimulating, if the listener lets it in.
McCombs’ sound certainly won’t do any work for you, either. There are no hooks, pulsations, or general head-snapping elements on this album. The anatomy of the songs shows a strong compositional influence, bringing it closer to the intricacies of orchestral music. This attention to detail is what will make a live performance of this album captivating to watch, not to mention to hear McCombs’ caramel voice through the microphone. (Maureen Clancy)
July 25 at The Hideout, 1354 West Wabansia, (773)227-4433, 9pm. $15; July 26 (moved from Monday, July 25th. All original tickets will be honored) at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, 8pm. $15.