Cave States The Great Divide cavestatesmusic.com
Chris Grabau and Danny Kathriner have dipped in and out of each other's musical lives for some time now; Grabau plays guitar in the Kathriner-led Half Knots, while Kathriner has recently begun drumming for Grabau's project Magnolia Summer. But with Cave States both songwriters share the stage equally, contributing songs and offering heartfelt acoustic-guitar strums and supportive harmony vocals for one another. This stripped-back setting gives a new frame to each man's talents and usual style.
Magnolia Summer has long embellished Americana songcraft with experimental tones and textures, and the last Half Knots record, this year's Proof, burbled with a kind of twangy soul. On The Great Divide the songs are taken back to their roots and intuitively ornamented by a gentle supporting cast that allow this album to bristle with themes of life's hard lessons and enduring rewards.
Most of the songs on The Great Divide rely on hushed understatement; both men excel at playing nuanced but forceful music written around the electric guitar (especially in Magnolia Summer), but the songs here are given room to breathe. As singers, Grabau and Kathriner share an ability to close in on the microphone one moment and pull back for a full-bodied holler (or falsetto) the next. The heavy, articulate strums on the title track act as a counterbalance to the whispered creak in Grabau's voice -- it's a study in contrasts that builds to one of the more satisfying crescendos, as piano and pedal steel gather around increasingly distant vocals.
For his part, Kathriner stays in front of the drum kit, his natural habitat as beatkeeper for the mighty country act Colonel Ford. The drums, when they do appear, are sparse and elemental. (It may be the ultimate act of understatement that John Horton, a regular collaborator with the co-leaders and a perennial nominee for this town's best guitarist, is present here as an occasional bassist.) But the ruminative nature of the songs jibes with the stripped-back instrumentation, leaving a collection that is simply but artfully framed.
Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, Missouri, 63130. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
RFT MUSIC'S GREATEST HITS
The 15 Most Ridiculous Band Promo Photos Ever "Where Did My Dick Go?" The Gathering of the Juggalos' Best Overheard Quotations I Pissed Off Megadeth This Week, My (Former) Favorite Band The Top Ten Ways to Piss Off Your Bartender at a Music Venue
Riverfront Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of St. Louis and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep St. Louis' true free press free.