Tancred – Capes

2 out of 5

Label: No Sleep Records

Produced by: ?

Having come to Tancred due to Anna Waronker’s work on Out of the Garden (me being a that dog. and Waronker fan…), I associated her – Jess Abbott, once of Now, Now and here recording solo – with the pop-rock sound of that album. To be fair, that can be found both on the preceding self-titled album as well as her followup, Nightstand, so I don’t feel that it’s such an outlandish association.

I am very glad that I found my way to Abbott’s work, as I’ve certainly enjoyed it beyond the very that dog.ish veneer of Garden, and can now appreciate the way that the two artists – Jess and Anna – worked together to produce a particular variant of the Tancred sound, as opposed to just letting a seasoned player take the ropes.

Had I started with this debut, Capes, I likely would’ve been more hesitant to give another album a go, associations with other artists I like or not. Now that I’m more familiar with Abbott’s output with her prior band, it makes a little more sense, but this is very stripped down stuff, to the point of often feeling like outtakes. Capes is ten short sketches of songs; Abbott barely gets some chords going on her guitar – mostly the only instrument heard – before a track ends and another pieces of an idea begins. What’s interesting is that her lyrics are incredibly strong – very powerful; very poetic – which suggests this is more thoughts accompanied by music than songs to which words were set. To this effect, when there is more of a sense of composition – the opener and closer are good; the instrumental that leads in the B-side is catchy – Capes has hints of melodies that make you want more, but it’s only ever this: hints. Otherwise, the remaining songs are rather weightless.

It is, alas, more something to own as part of a Tancred collection than an album I’m likely to return to; an interesting footnote – a way for Jess to find her own identity as a solo artist, and realize she likes the sound of drums and guitars backing her up.