“Tell Everyone” South to Cedars
South to Cedars sound both more relaxed and more polished on their sophomore album, “Tell Everyone.”
The difference is clear from the first notes. The debut album, “Sunny State,” opened with some frantic fiddle and an urgent warning about “young love.” The new release begins with relaxed acoustic guitar over lyrics about work-life balance — kind of a more folky and less cheesy update of Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend.”
Which is not to say the new album is all slow and laid-back. There are still some boot stompers here. The basic sound hasn’t changed. It’s still the acoustic Americana that has filled dance floors at Avo’s and at local festivals for four years. But the group sounds more unified and tight than ever before.
Some of the new polish comes from some high-profile production. After recording “Tell Everyone” at the famed Stout Studios in Fort Collins, the group sent tracks to Portland for mixing by Adam Selzer, who has worked with Blind Pilot, the Decemberists and Fleet Foxes. Finally, two-time Grammy winner David Glasser mastered the album at Airshow Mastering, near Boulder.
These professionals ably incorporated more harmonies and blended the four voices in the band. Ben Haugestuen is still the primary songwriter, but the whole band collaborated on lyrics and arrangements — with one major exception.
The band bravely covers “One,” a classic track with at least two equally classic covers. They hold their own even if they don’t bring the gravitas of either Johnny Cash or Mary J. Blige. If nothing else, it’s a reminder that, however discredited U2 have become, they wrote some legendary songs in their prime.
South to Cedars is playing at Avo’s on July 19, and at the CSU Lagoon Series on July 24.
— Steve Graham