We first ran across Cicada Rhythm several years ago. In fact, if you dig in our YouTube archives you’ll find a charming little interview with them. Since then, both the band and our website have changed quite a bit. Suffice it to say we were thrilled to hear they signed with New West Records and had put out a new Americana album, Everywhere I Go.
The first track “America’s Open Roads” is perfect for an Americana album. It highlights the string-heavy sound that defines the band. The vocal harmonies are charming in their own way also. It’s the kind of song you would expect to hear from a touring band. Oh and the organ is jaunty; we like that.
“Even in the Shallows” highlights the low end strings, giving a bit more of a classical tone to the track. Maybe it moves into some sort of chamber folk mood. Whatever you call it, there’s no way to listen to the song and not be moved to emotions. The syncopation in the percussion gives it a unique texture that avoids the “all Americana sounds the same” critique immediately.
“Shake Up” feels like a bit more of an experimental composition. The male vocal takes the lead on this one, giving it a different perspective. Equally good, just with a different focus, it shows the versatility of this talented band. The following “Dream Alone” feels good, too, although living in some minor chords for a bit. There’s a contemplative mood to the piece. Something about the composition style, though, allows the sweetness in the lead vocal to cut through with more precision than the others.
The entire album feels earthy and real, which is something we often seek out around here. “Roses by my side” gives a bit more of a traditional country texture. I love the melody line on this one. A bit more Milk Carton Kids than some of the others on the album, it’s a wonderfully timeless sound. The strings and vocals on this one are really good. It’s probably my favorite on a skip-free album.
“Straight Scared” has a complex beat to it. Maybe more jazz than the straight time country favorites, it’s certainly a track that shows off the professional writing and performance chops of this impressive duo. The following “Out Alive” takes a turn toward late 20th century alt rock with a steel guitar. Bear with me on this one. Just listen. You’ll hear some inflections that feel like some not-so-country bands, but still preserve the spirit of the style. If you’re a fan of the Wood Brothers, you’ll dig this one.
The waltz timing on “Kaleidoscope Rose” is perfect for the band, for the message of the song, and even for its place in the album. It’s a heartwarming track, moving right up the scale in the bassline in a way that feels just right. The penultimate track “Bare Minimum” has some of the best harmonies on the whole album. Again balancing a jazz style with country elements, the song goes in some really interesting directions. It makes it hard to fathom this duo playing music at the CMAs, but they certainly deserve a shot at the Ryman with folks like Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.
The final track “Back Home” again reminds me of the Wood Brothers in the best way possible. The lead vocal has some fascinating inflections on this one, bringing in a high lonesome phrasing that feels old fashioned and new all at once. The banjo on this one, though, just might steal the show.
This is an excellent album from start to finish. It’s a bit more progressive than some conventional bluegrass and Americana outfits. That said, the experimental and organic instrumentation and writing on this album make it infinitely rewarding. Cicada Rhythm are blending styles in intriguing ways that make their music so much more than a repeating of the old classics. I’ve been through these songs a few times and already can’t wait to listen again. They will move you and get your toes tapping.