Humor Risk

Cass McCombs

Cass McCombs’ sixth album is a collection of lyric narratives that defies the singer/songwriter genre by creating disparate personas for each song, instead of revealing the confessional voice of the artist. The engineering ranges from sophisticated slick to deliberately rough, with richly layered vocals and rhythmic restraint. Each song produces a mood of delicate darkness, even against the occasional upbeat tempo and sweet melody, yet there is much variation between tracks. “The Same Thing” is an episodic piece with hints of ’70s nostalgia. “To Every Man His Chimera,” with its haunting tremolo guitar and a torturously slow beat, is a subdued anthem that induces the feeling of listening to the song under water. “Mystery Mail” is an incessant epic poem recalling the demise of meth dealers. Consistent throughout, however, are overt religious references and subtle literary allusions. The texture of the lyrics keeps some songs dynamic when they could have become repetitive. Humor Risk once again proves that McCombs is as much a writer as he is a musician, perhaps with a penchant for black comedy.