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The Cash Brothers

How Was Tomorrow – 2001 (Zoe/Rounder)

Reviewed by Nick A. Zaino III

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CDs by The Cash Brothers

The Cash Brothers debut is an album worth spending some time with. It's laid-back hooks and melodies might not dig into you immediately, but given a couple of listens, the album will work its way under your skin. This Canadian duo has created a rich, full sound with two-part harmonies, acoustic guitars up front, and crackling electric guitars mixed back. The nearest touchstone is early Jayhawks during their more mellow moments.

There's a reflective quality to the Cash Brothers' songwriting that, in the hands of lesser writers, would seem overly sentimental and self-indulgent. But Andrew and Peter Cash are storytellers, and the details make these songs. The clerk in "Night Shift Guru" indulges in an odd form of self-voyeurism, watching his own life go by on the security monitor. "Guitar Strings and Foolish Things" is a bit more wistful, offering a collage of images in lines like "I'm remembering your skin and the sunlight coming in/Guitar strings and foolish things/and whatever else the day brings." The narratives are sad and amusing, and refrain from any third-person judgment of the characters in the songs. And the spare elegance of the arrangements focus on the brothers' harmonies, bringing out the stories. This is a sleeper, but well worth the effort.