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Preview; CASS MCCOMBS Leaf.

Byline: Jade Wright

CASS McCombs is a child of the 70s. Born in 1977 and raised in Northern California, he spent many years drifting across America, making music and meeting people.

He learned to listen to people's stories from many walks of life. Instead of university, this was his education. McCombs worked as a caretaker, a stable hand, a bookseller, a truck driver, and a cinema projectionist.

He worked in construction in New Jersey and at a New York delicatessen, all the time observing people and noting down their stories.

It's how he says he developed his narrative songwriting style, and the use of characters.

Rather than fulfilling the stereotype of the confessional singer-songwriter, he describes the lifestyles and feelings of those that surround him, with more love than judgement: drugs, Scientology, Western America, and so on, in allegorical form. He has an affection for them all.

He is, as he says, a mirror for what goes on around him.

Deeply distrustful of the music business, he has stayed relatively underground, supported by a devoted fan base and his label.

In 2010, Domino Records hired a photo-surveillance private investigator to follow McCombs and take what would be become the publicity shots for Wit's End. In contrast to his persona, his music is generous, the melodies always infectious, the production and musicianship first-rate. And always at the forefront of his craft are the lyrics, which more than any songwriter today propel the avant-garde.

Humor Risk was his sixth-anda-half record, and second released in 2011, following Wit's End, which featured the tragic song County Line.

He writes continuously, not with any album in mind, and then puts them into themed groups.

Humor Risk is more rhythmbased, tempos swifter to nearly rocking, than the sparse Wit's End.

Infectious melodies are outlined by a wry lyricism that expresses the stories of characters from his native land.

Expect tracks from Humor Risk and from across his back catalogue when Cass McCombs plays Leaf on Bold Street on March 7.. Tickets pounds 9 from Probe Records, The Music Consortium and www.ticketline.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Feb 3, 2012
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