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  • Writer's pictureGloria Tang

Randy Casey's New Album 1 Dollar or 1 Dead Smith

It can be a little difficult sometimes to get a good read on Randy Casey’s music. For instance, a few of

the cuts on 1 Dollar or 1 Dead Smith are sung with great drama. If you don’t listen closely, you might get

caught up in the drama of it all. However, “No Dogs Allowed” is mainly about a harmless barbeque,

while “Big Fish” concerns a great fishing hole. You’d think these were about some great menace or

other, though, judging by their melodies, mood and overall feel. That confusion aside, though, the latter

features some mighty fine, Mark Knopfler-esque, Dire Straits-worthy speedy guitar work.

Listen to the Album here:

When it comes to the bigger political/social issues of life, Casey seems to take the neutral position on

them. There aren’t any especially triggering lyrical commentaries on this album. For instance, one of the

album’s eleven entries (including a reprise of the project’s title track) is called “Not My Monkey.” On its

chorus Casey announces, “Not my monkey/Not my zoo” when relating to OPP (other people’s

problems). He basically describes himself as a member of the ‘none of your beeswax’ affiliation.

When he does take a side on any subject, it’s done so in a decidedly innocent manner. This is the song

called “I Like Birds.” This isn’t a metaphor for some freedom or other. He’s not going to explain why the

caged bird sings, or anything quite that profound. Rather, he straight out tells us how much he likes

birds. He likes to see them in his backyard. He enjoys drawing pictures of them. Heck, he would be

happy to be reincarnated as a bird. So, just in case you’re wondering, Casey is pro birds all the way.

Sonically, Casey’s music on this album touches upon various rock, country and folk influences. A critic

once referred to Casey as “Leo Kottke gone ambient.” Not too sure about that. Nevertheless, there’s

also a bit of soul running through the release, too, as “I Don’t Like You Anymore” features a brass horn

section. Casey’s guitar playing on it, though, brings to mind Chuck Berry in places. It has a lyric about a

hero (a musical hero?) he once admired but doesn’t respect any longer. It’s about the happiest kiss-off

song you’re ever likely to hear. Even when he gets to the place where this ex-friend is told he can kiss his

ass, the “ass” line is replaced by the honk of a saxophone horn. He won’t make any enemies with any of

these songs.

Another notable track is called “Back on the Blues.” With it, Casey treats blues music as though it were a

religion. Some kneel to pray, he tells us, but he just falls back on the blues. At its finest, blues music can

feel like a spiritual experience, such as a prayer.

As you might guess, Randy Casey comes off throughout as a relatively gentle soul. Even when he sings

praises of the blues, he does so with a rather un-bluesy, soft rock tune. The album’s title track is the only

one where Casey infuses a little grit into his performance. It has a bit of a Southern rock vibe running

through it. Otherwise, this is a mellow set of tunes through and through.

Watch the 1 Dollar or 1 Dead Smith here:


-Dan MacIntosh


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