Cass McCombs
Tip of the Sphere



Across nine records now, US singer-songwriter Cass McCombs has progressed from lo-fi indie to one of folk rock’s leading lights, dealing in an austere Americana with a focus on storytelling. ‘Tip of the Sphere’ follows career-best ‘Mangy Love’ from 2016. Where that album was as ominous and acerbic as the US Presidential election it was released into, this record is more thoughtful and detached. Finding McCombs abroad again in his native America, travel is at the crux of the record – take, for example, the journey on ‘I Followed the River South to What’, which is underlined by its gorgeously repetitive, lolling swamp groove. Here and at other points, the jazz-pop mysticism of ’70s Van Morrison feels like a touchstone.

As is often the case in Cass McCombs’ work, all of human life is found on the journey. There’s sex (the brilliant, jangle folk of lead single ‘Estrella’ sees McCombs moodily scowl ‘I was roused and aroused/ Only you can rouse me in that way’) – and death, in the ominous Southern gothic of ‘Sidewalk Bop After Suicide’.

Though figures like Ryley Walker might be marking the same territory but with more edge and darkness, McCombs is one of the most masterful proponents of Americana working today, although that’s not to say there aren’t surprises here – ‘American Canyon Sutra’ has an elliptic spoken word section over an admittedly mild hip-hop loop, and the exposed Latin rhythms of ‘Real Life’ suggests a growing world music influence might be seen on McCombs’ work next.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support our running costs (the printing and distribution fees, the podcast and production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for works out at £3 per month for UK subscribers, charged yearly.

If that seems like a bit of a punt, you can pay-as-you-go for £4 per month and cancel any time you like. European and world plans are available too, at the lowest rate we can afford.

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.