Stay Folksy, San Diego
Huddled into the pseudo-genre that is “freak-folk,” Castanets, the musical project of San Diego’s own Raymond Raposa, brings indie listeners its third release on Asthmatic Kitty. City of Refuge combines melancholic sounds, folksy strumming, and Raposa’s gloomy crooning to boot.The album begins with three short tracks of instrumental, non-climactic, reverberated plucking, which leads the listeners to more of said reverberated plucking with Raposa’s vocals finally dropping in for a quick hello with the song “Prettiest Chain.”
The next track, “Refuge 1,” begins with Raposa doing somewhat of a folk rendition of a depressed Tom Waits over more droning, reverberated strumming. Almost like a backwoods mantra, “I’m gonna run to the city of refugeâ€šÃ„Â¶,” is repeated to instill listeners with slight fear, yet Raposa’s use of twinkly-yet-dark tones invokes moods instead of emotions.
Midway, listeners are treated to a little more uplifting piece of Americana with the short “I’ll Fly Away.” You can almost hear the childlike whispers of Jenny telling Forrest to pray with her in the dusty Alabama cornfields as Raposa makes an effort to sound less destroyed.
The next instrumental, “The Hum,” paints more pictures, but this time of Spanish pueblos with its flamenco-esque guitar. It’s a shame it only clocks in at 1 minute and 6 seconds.
The album closer “After the Fall” ends with a common staple of folk music: storytelling. Dylan-esque in both vocals and mood, this track closes the disc and makes listeners evaluate the weak beginning that was the first three tracks of City of Refuge. The song appreciates the sweet tidbits that comprise the body as a whole. Brevity sometimes proves to be a solution in most aspects of pop music, but in this case could have harmed a great release by Raposa.