Lucas Cates brings a light touch to All the Pieces, an album dominated by easy-flowing meditations on the cycles of seasons, emotions and formative experiences. Narrated events play out and blend back into the fabric of ordinary lives. A lot of crying goes on—and for various reasons—in Cates’ little stories, but he rarely departs from his mellow, somewhat distant tone. On many tracks he lingers over the sensation of jazzy vibration in his throat, just coolly, genuinely pleased by the sound of his own voice.
Occasionally, Cates seems to wake up and listen to the story he is telling. “Through” surprises with its verbal venom: “Our answers lie in the grave/believe me when I say/I think you’re through anyway.” Slightly fuzzed up guitar and a hint of strain in the voice put the song in a different emotional register from the mellow tunes that surround it.
If you listen with an ear for the lyrics, these songs can be engaging, but the Lucas Cates Band is easy not to hear. That’s not because the sound is unpleasant, but because, aside from “Through” and the up-tempo “Lives With Demons” (probably the best track on the album), every sound is so smoothly modulated that the band is too easy to tune out.
The Lucas Cates Band plays the Top Hat Tuesday, May 12, at 8 PM. Cover TBA.