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CatsMelvin Present New Album 'America's Beautiful Waltz'

CatsMelvin’s America’s Beautiful Waltz is the first release from the

Lincoln, Nebraska based performer since 2013’s EP Houston and well worth

the decade long wait. It’s a note of confidence in his material that he

opens the collection with the title song. “America’s Beautiful Waltz”

has a decidedly old-school country music thrust that provides an

appropriately mournful vehicle for CatsMelvin’s reflections on the

country’s thwarted promise. Pedal steel guitar lines layer the

arrangement with that classic “high lonesome sound” that purveyors of

such music are familiar with while tasteful percussion supplies a steady

foundation for the performance. CatsMelvin’s voice has unique qualities.

It sounds frayed and emotional on some lines while, during others, he

sings like a proverbial bird.

Pedal steel returns during “All We Have Is Fear” and it’s a good match

for the song’s stripped down shuffle. He eschews any extended

instrumental breaks, but superior musicianship distinguishes the song

each step of the way. His lyrical acumen is an important aspect of the

album’s success; CatsMelvin definitely addresses the country’s

contemporary mood, but never strips his writing directly from the

headlines. He, instead, writes about modern issues in a timeless way.

“Do You Mind” breaks from the countrified textures of those songs.

CatsMelvin engineers an enormous shift into near-dissonant sound

college, indie rock with an exploratory edge, while still addressing the

same issues that consume the album so far. The final quarter half of the

song breaks new ground as well descending as it does into

quasi-industrial chaos. He makes excellent use of female backing

vocalists prior to the fifth song “Escape in Every Way”, but their

contributions reach a new zenith with this song. This is surprisingly

soulful and CatsMelvin establishes a slightly skewed soulful groove from

the beginning that carries listeners through the entirety of the cut.

He kicks things into a higher gear with the rambunctious up-tempo rock

of “It’s Magic”. It flames to life with a brief snippet of keyboards

before roaring out of the starting blocks. CatsMelvin never lets up for

a second as he tears through another fine set of lyrics. He applies a

slight amount of flange to the introductory guitars of “Marching On”,

but the bulk of the performance takes listeners back to the solid

classic country influences we heard at the album’s beginning. “Whole

World Is Smoking” goes in a strong rock direction with a ribald edginess

in the guitar solos. CatsMelvin hits the gas pedal again and the break

near song’s end before launching into the final lap is a master touch.


America’s Beautiful Waltz concludes with “Words”. A surprising

theatrical tilt makes its presence felt here as the turgid tempo and

warm distorted guitars give CatsMelvin an excellent platform for his

dramatic vocals. The lyrics are top-notch once again and accompanying

backing singers sweeten an otherwise downcast tune. It’s an effective

closer for a thoroughly satisfying album. CatsMelvin’s America’s

Beautiful Waltz is a stirring return for one of the indie music world’s

most memorable songwriters and performers.


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