David Casey's new album is an intriguing combination of treacle and well-crafted songwriting. The Helena artist took a different path than his former bandmate, the Decemberists' Colin Meloy. The Reckoning has a jammy, folky sound but it's far from the bland singer-songwriter stuff of coffeehouses. Buried in the title track, you can hear the desolate tone that marks many an REM tune. "Love Comes Surely" starts out casual but, at some point, the 1970s-gospel feel erupts into a fantastically hooky chorus that recalls the climactic goodness of Bill Withers's "Lean on Me" or Arthur Lee's "Gotta Live."
The obvious rhyme and flat storyline of "Vigilante Day" kills the buzz momentarily. And the orchestral melodrama of "Hasn't it Been Good" is disappointingtrying so hard to induce emotion that it overwhelms. But "Come Out With Me Tonight" helps the album get grounded once again, and "Haste the Morning," though utterly romance-imbued, has a galloping ease that doesn't make it ooze.
I could listen to the dark, tapping tune "I Won't Work for the Devil" on repeat for hours. It evokes old mining towns, backyard fires and gray, rainy skies. Here Casey is at his rawest, and also his most genuine. More of that, please.