[18 June 2007]
In a time when even former child stars and lingerie-hawking indie pinups have critics swooning over a few vocal twangs, it’s refreshing and reassuring to hear a new artist for whom “alt-country” has no place in their musical vocabulary. Dan McCarthy, the man behind McCarthy Trenching, is that kind of musician. From the album cover (a picture of a longhorn steer) to the unabashedly sentimental cowpoke lyrics (he wishes for a “Dobro daughter, and a mandolin pickin’ son”), McCarthy Trenching’s self-titled debut announces the arrival of an honest, soulful presence. Sometimes a little too honest: I doubt Hank Williams ever sang, “I don’t want to sleep with you/ I just want to try your food.” McCarthy’s voice sounds uncannily like John Linnell’s from They Might Be Giants, but the nasal qualities that can annoy in Linnell’s pop music are better suited to McCarthy’s own brand of anachronistic folk. By the end of the album, you may not be ready to settle down in Nebraska, but you will be achin’ for home-brewed whiskey and more of that sweet gee-tar music.