This is the sophomore effort from the traveling minstral show known as Vetiver (named after an aromatic East Indian grass), a San Franciso-based collective that?s based around the singing/songwriting skills of Virginian Andy Cabic and has included the participation of such heavyweights as Devandra Banhart, Joanna Newsome, Hope Sandoval, Espers? percussionist Otto Hauser and My Bloody Valentine?s drummer Coim O?Ciosoig. Alissa Anderson?s ominous, droning cello and a call-and-response heartbeat yielding to swooping percussion welcomes us to ?Been So Long,? as Cabic delivers his tale in soft, laidback vocals, reminiscent of early Paul Simon. A lilting flute wanders through the room, adding an angelic air to the wyrdfolky surroundings.
There?s a Doorsy ?Riders of the Storm? air to ?You May Be Blue,? with echoed keys, Cabic?s delicate guitar lines and Hauser?s stomping drumbeat marshalling the proceedings along their merry way. ?No One Word? offers a glimpse into Cabic?s more intimate side, with a weeping violin adding a nostalgic, yet romantic touch to the delicate love song. It?s lovely traveling music for a stroll through the forest on a cool, summer?s eve. The weepy, sleepy-eyed, tears-in-my-beer ballad ?I Know No Pardon? shows Cabic to be equally adept at the alt.country game, a la Clem Snide, Golden Smog or Jayhawks. The pedal steel touch seals the deal, adding a touch of Americana that favorably recalls The Band or ?Sweethearts of The Rodeo?-era Byrds.
?Double? again peers into Cabic?s soul and is so relaxed you actually hear his fingers sliding up and down the strings. It also bears a decided Neil Halstead/Mojave 3 influence, always worth a few extra bonus points in our book! And when those strings (cello, viola, violin) roll in, well, let?s just say it?s crying time again. But the rousing, country jamboree of ?It Won?t Be Me? will have you kicking up your heels again; it?s a yee haw scorcher with a big fat guitar sound that?ll do Dave Edmunds and Brian Setzer proud. Laidback, reflective, romantic, and nostalgic are some of the terms that will wander through your mind as you listen to this lovely set, another of the year?s best. 10/10 -- Jeff Penczak (7 August, 2006)