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Thing Of The Past

by: Vetiver

Album Artwork

Vetiver is simply one of America's best bands, and some of the most vital and timeless music being made. Andy Cabic's understanding and deep knowledge of great songs and dynamic music is astounding, it does not suprise me that he cut his teeth in North Carolina, he has a way of giving himself to a song, every moment in his performance is focused, and it's an inspiration. He is one of a few friends that makes the hair on my arms stand up a few times during his shows, and on record.
                                                           - Jonathan Wilson

As Jonathan Wilson notes, Vetiver is a vital force amongst a group of Southern-born musicians making an impact on the California music scene.  Although Thing Of The Past is a record of cover songs, it may be the best place to start if you are new to Vetiver. 

Virginia-born Andy Cabic leads this California-based ensemble and as fellow musician Jonathan Wilson notes, Cabic "cut his teeth in North Carolina" playing in a hard core band called the Raymond Brake.  After that band fell apart, he picked himself up and headed west, falling in with a folk music scene centered around the San Francisco area.

Thing Of The Past feels as though Cabic and company have firmly found their footing in an artistic sense.  Vetiver was an extreme reaction to the Raymond Brake, every bit as quiet as that band was loud.  Cabic's initial focus was on songs and presenting them in a most unadorned fashion.

Cabic comments on the Vetiver website that making a record of covers freed him musically.  He focused his and the band's energy on the recording process rather than having to worry about presenting newly written songs.  The song choice also allowed him the luxury of showing Vetiver's musical values at large.

Cabic chose writers of the folksinger era like Michael Hurley, Loudon Wainwright, and Elyse Weinberg, but he also picked songs that were part of the British folk rock scene,"Roll On Babe", "Road To Ronderlin", and "Hurry Sundown", either written by or made famous by Ronnie Lane, Iain Matthews, and Hawkwind, respectively. 

Thing Of The Past provides the listener an ever-intensifying arc because it begins with Vetiver's classic and hushed sound holding sway over the first half of the record.  At the midpoint, "Hurry on Sundown" kicks things into another gear.  This allows Vetiver to show that it is a tightly wound ensemble who can rock in a laid back style and groove.

Cabric's voice is almost a dead ringer for George Harrison's.  It is thin, but incredibly soulful and melodic.  Whereas so many singers of today have channeled Neil Young of late, Cabric's Harrison-like delivery allows for a different emotional palette.  This makes some of the upbeat songs sound like Traveling Wilbury b-sides, a good thing indeed.

To show his sense of home, Cabic also picked a few of our region's more interesting songwriters.  "To Baby" is by Biff Rose of New Orleans, who has been widely credited as a large influence on David Bowie's Hunky Dory era.  The album closes with two fantastic songs by two legends,  Townes Van Zandt's "Standin'" and Bobby Charles' "I Must Be In A Good Place Now".

Thing Of The Past becomes Cabic making his own mix tape as a love letter to his influences and his audience.  His vision realizes both singularity and significance.  Looking forward to their next record of originals, Vetiver show all of the signs that they are on the verge of a breakthrough.

- Jim Markel


related tags

Mystery and Manners,
North Carolina,


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