Vetiver is the musical brainchild of Andy Cabic, who is part of a loosely organized group of musicians from the Swampland Footprint who have made their way out to California seeking creative refuge. Some of the more famous members of his coterie are the Black Crowes' Chris Robinson and Texas-born Devendra Banhart. This circle has widened to influence and include musicians like Jenny Lewis, Gary Louris, and even Elvis Costello.
However, Cabic, much like the talented Jonathan Wilson, has been largely lurking below the radar making strong contributions to other people's music and slowly building momentum behind Vetiver. With the release of Tight Knit, his patience and fortitude has been fully justified.
Tight Knit emerges as Vetiver's breakthrough record on so many levels. They have found a fine label partner in Sub Pop and delivered them their most keenly polished and crafted record of their career. Coming off an album of cover songs (Thing of the Past) that focused on 60s British folk, Cabic's compass was set for this latest release.
The oft-cited comparisons between Vetiver and solo George Harrison is apt since the influences and sensibilities are the same. Amongst Harrison's greatest gifts remains his superb musical economy. From his guitar solos to his songs, there rarely was ever a wasted note. Not only does Vetiver share this aesthetic, they also realize the same sense of loving generosity in their musical spirit.
"Rolling Sea" leads off the album in gentle style with nods to "Here Comes the Sun", anchored by strong electric guitar flourishes. Vetiver veers from there into Big Star territory with "Sister" which embodies that band's combination of ethereal pop and soul. Next comes "Everyday" with its sunny Brian Wilson overtones followed by the Jackson Brown-like California folk of "Through The Front Door". The album takes a gentle musical interlude at this point with "Down From Above" just to give the listener's senses a chance to catch up. A fine start to say the least.
The second half of Tight Knit expands the palette to include bluesy folk ("On The Other Side"), some Brit Pop sounds ("More Of This"), and laid back funk ("Another Reason To Go") before concluding with a couple of songs ("Strictly Rule" and "At Forest Edge") rooted in the leaders of 60s California folk rock, the Byrds.
As much as Cabic uses George Harrison as a reference point, Vetiver's deep connections to the Byrds' 5th Dimension/Notorious Byrd Bros era prominently shows in the albums concluding tracks. Vetiver also shares the same sense of artistic majesty that the Byrds were all about - never limited to one sound and always seeking to widen their horizons.
In describing Vetiver, Jonathan Wilson says it best:
It is also par for the course that [Andy Cabic] is one of the most humble sweet fellas you will ever meet, completey devoid of ego, and is an open antennae into the world of genuine communication and art,...
In owning Tight Knit, one has perhaps the best Sunday morning record done in the last decade. Put it on and lean back in your most comfortable spot. Let its elegance overcome you and prepare for a few hairs to stand on end as well.
- Jim Markel