Exposé Online banner

Cathedral & Rum — The Moon Is the Lord of Twisted Trees
((Not on label) no#, 2009, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2010-07-01

The Moon Is the Lord of Twisted Trees Cover artCathedral & Rum is essentially LA-based singer/songwriter Chris Hartford plus a host of guest musicians, depending on the album or song. Though make no mistake: Hartford is the creative nexus behind C&R. It’s his talent that makes the songs sink or swim, and on this best of collection you get all the Michael Phelpses of his three studio albums. Bong hits are even included via a hazy, slightly psych vibe behind what are essentially country-folk songs. The specters of Dylan, Waits, Chapin, Drake, etc. inhabit Hartford’s songs as he opens his heart and opines about modern life with a lyrical sensibility and maturity that is rare. Songs like “Ocean Light,” “Through the Trees,” and “Caroline” are phenomenal, with sparse instrumentation of piano and gliding guitars married to Hartford’s warm and twangy tenor and strummed acoustic. My favorite arrangements also include Jean Jenkinson on backing vocals, sounding not unlike Emmylou Harris, and when she and Hartford harmonize it’s like a shot of the good stuff. I’m less enamored of arrangements that block up the view with excessive and questionable instrumentation. This is best exemplified by “World Outside,” which includes turntable scratching, trumpet, piano, and a squalling electric guitar. There may be a purpose behind the added sounds, though when you have a talent so strong that voice and acoustic guitar can do it all, why bury it? Fortunately, this is the exception on this album, which is the best introduction to this gifted songwriter that I can imagine.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 38, 2009 releases

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

Latest news

2017-11-16
Celebrate 10 Years of Fruits de Mer – As a special celebration for a decade of cool vinyl releases, our friends at Fruits de Mer records have prepared a limited edition reissue of an album by the first band ever to appear on the label: Schizo Fun Addict. The band is known for unusual release strag » Read more

2017-11-02
Mega Dodo Presents New Charity Album – Our friends at Mega Dodo have put together a lovely compilation of their artists performing new arrangements of nursery rhymes, and all the profits from sales of the album will benefit Save the Children. It features a number of artists we've covered. » Read more

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Cul de Sac - Ecim – This four-piece from Massachusetts offers a free-wheeling neo-psychedelic sound that finds itself at home somewhere between current bands bands like Porcupine Tree, and the experimental music of...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues