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Brent Cash

How Strange It Seems

(Marina; US: 7 Jul 2011; UK: 6 Jul 2011)

There’s no denying that Georgia songwriter Brent Cash’s second album is a finely-crafted artifact.  Making ample use of the nearly 30-member strong orchestra he has assembled, Cash has recorded an ornate, sumptuous affair that meticulously recreates the symphonic pop stylings that populated AM radio around the late 1960s and early ‘70s.  Recalling all the premier pop production sounds of the era—Phil Spector, Motown, Brian Wilson, the Carpenters—the sugar-sweet strings and sunny melodies of How Strange It Seems conjure images not of a 21st century singer-songwriter, but of well-scrubbed ‘70s performers boasting polyester threads and beaming toothy smiles.  It’s all a little too fussy and over-detailed, though. Clever little flourishes, pleasing as they are in smaller portions, teem with little restraint, and every time an instrument drops out, another is ready to jump right in to take its place, depriving the compositions of breathing space. This means a song like the psychedelic soul-funk of “I Can Love You Anymore Than I Do” ends up being overly preoccupied with running through as many ideas as possible in its running time. However, it is Cash’s fascination with creating a convincing aural timewarp that will likely be the factor that draws or disinterests listeners. The man’s diligent sonic reconstruction can either be enrapturing for nostalgia fetishists or politely bland to anyone not interested in middle-of-the-road pop circa 1970. Despite the laudable craftsmanship, this is a record that caters to very specialized tastes.

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