Sunday, February 28, 2016

The "E" Word

Category:  Album Review

Even though You're Dreaming, the "official" debut album by the Minneapolis brother duo the Cactus Blossoms, has only been out since January 22, brothers Jack Torrey and Page Burkum are probably already sick of the "E" word.

The "E" word is "Everly."  And it's an inevitable comparison with these two outstanding singers.  It's not their fault that they sound like the Everly Brothers, though: much like the Whitstein Brothers, the Louisiana-based bluegrass duo who always had to endure comparisons to the Louvin Brothers, the Cactus Blossoms really can't help that they sound like Phil and Don.  

If the curiosity of a throwback to rock's (and one of country's) greatest brother duets entices you to give You're Dreaming a listen, then whatever it takes.  This is the first terrific album of 2016, and one that shouldn't be missed.

Jack Torrey (L) and Page Bunkum performing an opening set in 2014.
c. 2016 K.F. Raizor

I first heard the Cactus Blossoms when they opened a couple of dates for Dale Watson in 2014.  Two notes out of their mouths and I was hooked.  I bought their two self-released CDs, 2011's The Cactus Blossoms and 2013's Live at the Turf Club (both of which are still being sold at their concert merchandise tables) and couldn't stop listening.  Now they have an "official" label, just finished an "album release" tour (concluding at Chicago's Hideout backed by the Modern Sounds, who played on You're Dreaming), and are getting ready to do some more dates headlining and opening.  The album is getting positive reviews and plenty of airplay on Americana, Ameripolitan, and traditional country outlets.

These accolades aren't even enough.  These guys are amazing.  The new album features ten originals, nine of which were written by Torrey (Burkum wrote the other original), and a cover of Alton & Jimmy's "No More Crying the Blues."  Four of the songs are splendid new versions of songs from their self-released recordings, including the heavily plugged (do we call things "singles" anymore?) "Stoplight Kisses."

J.D. McPherson did a superb job of producing the album, basically letting the brothers do what they do best:  harmonize.  Chicago's Modern Sounds, who have their own material as well as backing several artists (an absolute highlight is Joel Paterson's guitar duets with Deke Dickerson on Dickerson's Live At Duff's album), are the perfect augmentation.  The songs meander through traditional country, rockabilly, and ballads, feeling fresh while still echoing the the "E" word.

You're Dreaming is a superb album, and it'll hopefully catapult the Cactus Blossoms into stardom.  Make sure you give this album a listen, and see them live.  These two fine young men will take your breath away.

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