It's said that the best songwriters capture the human spirit in a way that's unique yet universal, without resorting to clichs or pretentious gestures. That certainly goes for Casey Reid, whose patchwork blues and junkyard folk tunes hit the musical sweet spot. A wizened old soul fond of Beck and Tom Waits, Reid released his debut, Cephalclog, this year. It's an album whose impact is felt via the heart, not the head. Ghostly vocals, barnstorming guitar and a vast array of orchestral touchesamong them, brittle cello and found-sound percussioncombine to create an aural experience that's a throwback to simpler days. But what makes Reid's songs so special is their humanity. Whether brimming with sorrow or rife with joy, they're always infused with unwavering passion and near-limitless empathy.