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Cicada Rhythm

Everywhere I Go – 2018 (New West)

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

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CDs by Cicada Rhythm

The band name Cicada Rhythm connotes Southern and rather languid. The duo - Andrea DeMarcus (vocals, upright bass) and Dave Kirslis (vocals, guitar) - create a rootsy, mostly-folk-driven sound that's soothing and intimate. They never seem hurried. "Everywhere I Go" is their third album and follows their lauded self-titled release from 2015. This time they raised the stakes a bit by bringing in Kenneth Pattengale (Milk Carton Kids) and Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers) to produce. Pattengale contributes on most tracks and he and Wood round out the sound with guests that play organ, strings, pedal steel, electric guitars and drums.

DeMarcus will inevitably be compared to Amy LaVere. Both play upright bass, and their voices are similar, each possessing a sultry, sensual quality that's elegant, classy and dream-like too. Kirlis also has a unique vocal approach with a flat, rather stark quality that seems to cry out for accompaniment. Fortunately, together with DeMarcus, the harmonies can be captivating. Their sound ranges from upbeat acoustic folk with Southern tinges to ethereal indie rock. The two met seven years ago. Kirslis was a part-time teacher and blues fan with a passion for hopping trains when he met DeMarcus, who had studied classical music at Juilliard and after graduation was living in Athens, Ga. So, credit Kirslis as the roots element and DeMarcus as the one with classical training, fusing their completely different backgrounds into this blend they've created. Each has a hand, often separately, in writing the dozen tunes.

The opening line to the leadoff track "America's Open Roads," reads "Every day starts with a terrible dream," belying the upbeat nature of the tune, that is propelled by Kirlis' electric guitar and Pattengale on B3. Immediately you sense DeMarcus at work on her penned "Even the Shadows," colored by her bowed bass, cello and strings. Then Kirlis shows his roots chops on "Shake Up," at first singing alone before DeMarcus joins him and their harmonies carry the melody forward. In just the first three cuts, there's a wide swath of musical influences and styles that alternates in that way throughout.

On their previous effort, Cicada Rhythm drew attention to their politically conscious songs. Here it's more understated although the female perspective is evident in "America's Open Roads" and "Where the Dogwood Dies" is rather obviously an eco-friendly tune. DeMarcus claims that they've changes some in the three years that have elapsed since the last record, but says many of the songs are emotional and raw. It's not all that often that a band sounds like no other. Cicada Rhythm does. Their eclectic, rather pure, highly musical approach seems dreamy and innocent at times. Just when it begins to take on that quality, they'll inject a song like "Out Alive" or "Bare Minimum" which are lively county- rockers. It's more than enough to keep the listener engaged.