Vetiver – Up On High
- Brian Donaldson
- 5 November 2019
Andy Cabic returns with follow-up to 2015's Complete Strangers
Compared to his earlier work, Andy Cabic seems to have gravitated towards a reassuring, relaxed, dare-it-be-said middle-aged sound. His band Vetiver's eponymous debut of 2004 had a quirkily unhinged psych-folk feel to it that was currency at the time (Devendra Banhart was a close collaborator and appeared on a couple of tracks), while 2006's 'More of the Past' EP aligned itself to an almost overly jaunty rockabilly sensibility which was abandoned at the finale with slow-melting ambient fare. Nowadays, that sort of eclectic ambition has been left on the shelf, with Up on High's sights set significantly lower (perhaps the press image of him lounging around in a hammock with a cute pooch is more than just a little symbolic).
While Cabic has been known to rock a room with bossanova DJ sets and help curate albums of rare Japanese folk-rock, this collection is resolutely back to basics, crafted on acoustic guitar and aims, according to the press material, to nudge memories of Tom Petty's Wildflowers and REM's Murmur. But at best Cabic's songs merely evoke those acts and albums rather than attempting in any way to transcend them.
'Swaying' goes back and forth without leaving much of an impression, while the gently melodic 'All We Could Want' threatens to be something you would desire but fritters away through repetition amid no evidence of a Plan B. The white-reggae atmosphere of 'Hold Tight' might actually leave you picturing Vetiver providing support to David Brent's band, while in an alternative universe, 'A Door Shuts Quick' could be the first draft of a John Lewis Christmas ad.
In the collection's lead single, and one of its more successful numbers, 'To Who Knows Where', Cabic pleads 'Give me one more chance / One more song and dance / To prove I care'. His CV has more than enough quality in the bank for us to happily lend him that opportunity. Hopefully next time he'll soar.
Out now on Loose.