Castanets auteur Ray Raposa resides in a sparse, windblown expanse where his creeping country-folk echoes through the cavernous emptiness, shimmering for a moment like hot summer road haze. His songs creak under the weight of portentous pauses before pushing forward, his voice shuddering as if he might buckle at any time. He stays just a step ahead of enveloping darkness, like Iron & Wine's Sam Beam cast as a rag-tag Fagin after ditching his urchins in a fevered trek cross Death Valley. An evocative, dolorous air surrounds him, whether considering how Adam might have had "So many things to repress/In those first days after the fall," desperately imploring "We've gotta leave this party or leave this town," or suggesting receding love resembles the sun dipping into the horizon, "The closer we get/The brighter it sets/The lower it gets." The tone recalls Will Oldham's Palace Brothers albums, evoking bereft longing and a sense of incipient loss. At times, sputtering electronics and beats gild the corners, adding a thin veneer of modernity to the haunting pall. Though Castanets' forthcoming fifth LP, Texas Rose, the Beasts, and the Thaw, is written almost entirely in Spanish, that won't disguise the lingering ache of the music.


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