Exposé Online banner

Cathedral & Rum — American Gothic
((Not on label) no#, 2010, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2007-03-01

American Gothic Cover art

The follow up to Cathedral & Rum’s 2000 debut finds Chris Hartford and friends on familiar ground. The dreamy, country and western tinged alternative pop sound is intact, all wrapped around Hartford’s languid and yearning drawl and acoustic guitar. It’s not hard to see that he’s an exceptional singer and songwriter, and every piece on the album has much to offer. Lyrically Hartford is simply superb. He again seems to be taking on topics and places personal to his experience (he resides in San Diego) with titles like “City of Ice,” “Lullaby on a St. Charles St.” and “Glass Bottom Town.” Besides a stronger country vibe to this collection, Hartford has chosen to augment nearly every song with instrumental enhancements that include accordion, flute, strings, and sax. Backing vocalists Jean Jenkinson and Sierra Hart harmonize wonderfully with Hartford with an effect not unlike Dwight Yoakam paired with Emmylou Harris. Less effective are occasional psych effects mainly supplied by Stick player Colin Jenkinson. Like the previous album, I find some of the Stick work inappropriate to the warm and intimate vibe that runs through the songs. Still, the occasionally off-kilter elements, like mixing some of the instruments slightly out of sync or the inclusion of sound effects that lay just above the aural threshold, work to reinforce the sense of weary melancholy inhabiting the album. It’s another very strong collection and I wonder when Hartford will finally be noticed and given a bigger stage to present his songs.


Filed under: New releases, Issue 34, 2010 releases

Related artist(s): Cathedral & Rum, Chris Hartford

Latest news

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Ian McDonald - Drivers Eyes – Let us take a long journey back through the ether to advent of progressive rock. Who do you see lurking around in the shadows? Well one person was Ian McDonald whose group, King Crimson, was a magic...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues