Cass McCombs - CCA, Glasgow, Thu 9 Jan
Perfect mix of cynical comment, spiritual profundity and evocative twang of the great American beyond
Cass McCombs’ records are full of a road-worn, vaguely spiritual-mystical wisdom that fits with his near 20-year history as an itinerant musician. On stage at the CCA, he cuts a far less mature-seeming figure. There’s something of that other vulnerable-yet-wise Peter Pan of alt-country, Conor Oberst, in his meagre, plaid-clad frame and the straggly fringe completely hiding the top half of his face.
The set starts strongly with a trio from latest album Big Wheel and Others: ‘There Can Only Be One’ and ‘My Name Written in Water’ could be plodding if they weren’t so damn laid-back, with that rolling, winding-up-and-winding-down country schtick effortlessly executed by McCombs and his three colleagues. ‘Big Wheel’ is a dirty, stomping triumph: it sounds a hundred-years old and yet drips with restless attitude.
A mid-set lull contains a few songs that trundle along nicely enough without really going anywhere, amid the odd slip into self-indulgence, but the lazily foreboding minor key ballad ‘Mariah’ and 2011’s ‘Love Thine Enemy’ provide later highlights. A not entirely even set, then, but when McCombs is on form his work is a perfect mix of cynical comment, spiritual profundity and evocative twang of the great American beyond.