Exposé Online banner

Cathedral & Rum — The Moon Is the Lord of Twisted Trees
((Not on label) no#, 2009, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2010-07-01

The Moon Is the Lord of Twisted Trees Cover artCathedral & Rum is essentially LA-based singer/songwriter Chris Hartford plus a host of guest musicians, depending on the album or song. Though make no mistake: Hartford is the creative nexus behind C&R. It’s his talent that makes the songs sink or swim, and on this best of collection you get all the Michael Phelpses of his three studio albums. Bong hits are even included via a hazy, slightly psych vibe behind what are essentially country-folk songs. The specters of Dylan, Waits, Chapin, Drake, etc. inhabit Hartford’s songs as he opens his heart and opines about modern life with a lyrical sensibility and maturity that is rare. Songs like “Ocean Light,” “Through the Trees,” and “Caroline” are phenomenal, with sparse instrumentation of piano and gliding guitars married to Hartford’s warm and twangy tenor and strummed acoustic. My favorite arrangements also include Jean Jenkinson on backing vocals, sounding not unlike Emmylou Harris, and when she and Hartford harmonize it’s like a shot of the good stuff. I’m less enamored of arrangements that block up the view with excessive and questionable instrumentation. This is best exemplified by “World Outside,” which includes turntable scratching, trumpet, piano, and a squalling electric guitar. There may be a purpose behind the added sounds, though when you have a talent so strong that voice and acoustic guitar can do it all, why bury it? Fortunately, this is the exception on this album, which is the best introduction to this gifted songwriter that I can imagine.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 38, 2009 releases

Related artist(s): Cathedral & Rum, Chris Hartford

Latest news

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more

2020-07-12
Judy Dyble RIP – Singer-songwriter Judy Dyble, who was a founding member of Fairport Convention and one of the distinctive voices of the 60s folk revival in Britain, has died at the age of 71. Her passing came at the end of a long illness, though which she continued to work. » Read more

2020-07-06
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Simon Phillips - Another Lifetime – Simon Phillips is a drummer who has little to prove nowadays, what with the monstrous level of playing ability he has cultivated over the years. Terry Bozzio is perhaps his closest competitor...  (1999) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues