It's highly unlikely that Cass McCombs will ever become a household name, or sell out stadiums, or have a number one hit that spans several continents. It's improbable that the American musician will release an album that goes multi-platinum in Uzbekistan. Cass McCombs has been, and remains something of a best-kept secret when it comes to songwriters with class and subtlety. His understated melodies and catchy, simplistic arrangements have a sense of the 'experienced' about them, although they're far from hoary or jaded.
His fourth album, 'Catacombs' follows 2007's brilliant 'Dropping the Writ', a record that further explored the boundaries of what one man, a guitar and some refined musicianship can achieve; it was a gorgeous collection of unfussy acoustic songs that shuffled, shimmied and sparkled in generous measures. Here, you'll find tracks similarly covered in a syrupy pop haze and imbued with a warm analogue hiss.
At times, McCombs sounds like he's immersed himself heavily in the glory years of Sun Records ('Dreams-Come-True Girl', 'Prima Donna'), at others he's indebted to Abbey Road-era Beatles ('Eavesdropping On the Competition', the jaunty 'Jonesy Boy'), but his compositions are never less than captivating. Adding some slow-drip drama (the beautifully sombre trickle of 'You Saved My Life') as well as a dose of tongue-in-cheek humour via the lyric sheet ('The Executioner's Song') makes 'Catacombs' a nice starting point for further explorations into a hugely-underrated musician's back catalogue.