Cape Disappointment

Aaron Semer

Pastures Of Plenty Records, 2019

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


If you're like me, most of the bands in your collection from Seattle are on the loud side with thick guitars and a dense atmosphere. Aaron Semer, also from Seattle, instead pens an acoustic album with Cape Disappointment, which he describes as his “midlife crisis” record. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“A God That's All Ours” starts the listen with warm acoustic strumming and Semer's wise, rich vocals on the atmospheric folk-rock opener. “Bones For The Catacombs” follows with soulful, groove friendly delivery of Americana, where accordions add much to the landscape.

Even though Semer handles vocals, most guitars, percussion, and even kazoo, he's got help, and the backing vocals and harmonica acrobatics on the breezy and melodic “The Clothes Of A Dead Man” help make this one of the best tunes, while the bare setting of “Risingsun, OH” proves that Semer shines by himself, too, on the sparse singer-songwriter offering.

The back half of the listen is equally compelling. It includes the rhythmic and clever “(Little Black Square On My) Profile Pic,” which unfolds like a modern day protest song, and the rural beauty of “Ball And Chain,” where Kevin Bean's harmonica and group vocals just make you want to host a campfire. “The Time We Used To Kill” ends the listen soft and agile, with a back to basics approach and timeless folk quality to the exit.

Just to be clear, in case you're taking the title at face value, Semer has done quite a lot of very great things in his life, but as he approaches the halfway point, he's understandably mulling everything over on this album that's full of vivid storytelling and keen observations.

Semer formerly dabbled in power-pop with a bit of twang as a the frontman of The Plains, and on this sophomore album, he proves that he has the solo chops to draw justified comparisons to Lucinda Williams, Jeff Tweedy, or Steve Earle – yes, he's that good.

Rating: B+

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