For a while there, it looked like 2011 just wasn’t going to be Cass McCombs‘ year.
The accomplished songwriter had spent the past few years crafting fantastic albums like 2007’s Dropping the Writ and 2009’s Catacombs, and was set to release the ultra-personal Wit’s End in April. But when Wit’s End was dropped, it landed with a thud. The morose, plodding album lacked the shimmer and sheen that had elevated his previous work, replacing it with a lethargic and unrelenting despair. And so, not with a bang but with a whimper, Cass McCombs’ winning streak ended.
Artists are expected to have ups and downs, and McCombs’ recent string of successes had certainly entitled him to the occasional misstep. Couple that good will with the musician’s recent painful divorce — the reported inspiration for Wit’s End‘s sad-sackery — and the album seemed destined to go down in history as a shrug-inducing mulligan. But no one expected McCombs to make a comeback so soon.
Earlier this month, he released his second album of the year, Humor Risk, and what a breath of fresh air it is. The guitar drone and insightful lyrics of the opening track, “Love Thine Enemy,” immediately wash away any bad taste left from Wit’s End, and announce with steely confidence that McCombs is back in fighting form. Each of the album’s eight tracks shine with the unforgettable melodies, introspective wit, and cool delivery that have become his hallmarks.
Humor Risk is one of the year’s best albums, and its success is all the more resounding in light of McCombs’ early-year stumble. On December 1, he’ll take a victory lap at the Casbah, where he’ll be joined by San Diego’s own The Donkeys. And, as luck would have it, we’re giving away a pair of tickets to the show. To enter, comment here by November 30.
Cass McCombs on tour
11/30/2011 – Los Angeles, CA – The Echo
12/1/2011 – San Diego, CA – Casbah
12/4/2011 – San Francisco, CA – Great American Music Hall
12/6/11 – Vancouver, BC – Electric Owl
12/7/11 – Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern
12/8/11 – Portland, OR – Doug Fir
12/9/11 – Eugene, OR – Cozmic