JACK CADE – Bewilderland (COLL057)

BewilderlandBewilderland is the latest album of Jack Cade’s prolific streak over the past few years.  Maybe it’s because I’m a Northerner, but Cade doesn’t seem to be as well-known as I feel his unique sound should be. He’s been described most frequently as Americana, but that’s not a genre that comes to mind when I listen to his albums – and until Planet Folk is created I suspect I’d be at least as likely to hear his music on Planet Rock than, say, Absolute Radio Country.

How to give a feel? The usual comparisons of Cade’s expressive baritone are: Waits, later Cash, Beefheart, Cocker (Joe, not Jarvis). Well, yes, but … there’s the also the Cohen gentleness on a Cade track such as ‘The Glitter Round Your Eyes’ and, overall, I hear more kinship in Cade’s music with the Nick Cave of, say, ‘The Weeping Song’ or ‘Red Right Hand’ than any of the more frequent references.

But above any of these, what I hear in Jack Cade’s music is Jack Cade – unique as a songwriter and interpreter of his own songs.

To expand a little more, I’d be surprised if Cade’s songs could retain their musical and emotional power if they were sung and played by anyone other than Cade and The Everyday Sinners, his band. This is no mean feat – after which, whether you like it or not is simply a matter of taste. It should be apparent that I’m in the camp that rather does like Cade’s music.

Bewilderland, then, is the new album. There are ten tracks. ‘Choose Your Condition’ is the opener – great tune, rhythm, guitar, keyboards, by the way – and a chorus:

We all are shouting to the heavens
No-one ever listens
Why don’t you slow it down
And look me in the eye

which builds to the concluding verse:

“Change your condition
Change your belief
Change your reason
Lose your deceit

and the final chorus:

Why can’t you slow it down
 and ask the question why”.

Not for nothing has Cade chosen his stage name from the leader of a fifteenth century rebellion against the abuse of power.

‘Roll Them Dice’ draws you in further. Can you have ‘scuzzy’ as a description to mean something positive about a sound created from a country-ish/folk-ish music opening? With Cade I can for a track about stars like diamonds shining in the sky “hanging just out of reach”. Dice aren’t always lucky.

‘The Faster You Run’ and ‘Little Secret’ continue in the same style, the latter being deeper, darker, the sound coming out of some depth that you’re wary of falling into.

Just as you think you’ve got a sense of Cade’s sound, the fifth track is ‘The Glitter Around Your Eyes’, a country sound, reduced instrumentation, Cade’s voice supported by the vocal of Helen Muggeridge, presumably (there’s limited information with the promo copy), and some atmospheric violin from Hana Maria (equally presumably).

‘Where The Sun Meets the Moon’ continues the quieter feel, but the duet between Cade and (presumably) Muggeridge is a real heart-tugger, with a nicely sparse backing to some powerful romancing “We will seek ever higher/ Between need and desire / To fan the flames of the fire of our soul”.

‘Love Will Burn All Down’, ‘Heal Me (Everything Ain’t Alright)’ and ‘Rocking Horse Blues’ (very catchy chorus) return to the full driving force of Cade and the band. The album closes a little more quietly with ‘Keep Believing’, “I will find fire and the strongest desire to carry my torch of belief”.

Bewilderland is, simply, a splendid album, released at the end of January, which should get a wider hearing. His website needs updating with gigs for 2024, but it’s a page to keep on eye on.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website: https://www.jackcade.com

‘Choose Your Condition’ – official video:

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