Cass McCombs Humor Risk

Cass McCombs Humor Risk
The second album of 2011 from Cass McCombs, Humor Risk, comes as a hasty follow-up to April's severe, yet engrossing, WIT'S END. Recording both albums in the same sessions over the course of three years, the nomadic McCombs separated the two and grouped them appropriately. And so if the soft rock-leaning WIT'S END was the ultimate downer, Humor Risk is not quite the upper, but the more optimistic of the pair, and his most communicative album so far. McCombs hasn't exactly come out of his shell just yet though, masking his lyrical tragedies with black humour and jocular, folk-tinged pop, as with "Robin Egg Blue" and "The Same Thing," which self-aware or not acknowledges the "equal light and equal dark" contrast. "The Mystery Mail" goes one step further, weighing down a blithe rocker with a detailed account of two friends whose drug business got them thrown in jail, where "Daniel was stabbed with a ballpoint pen." You can argue that the morose "To Every Man His Chimera" would have fit better on WIT'S END, but situated right in the middle here, it acts as both a nice buffer zone and connector to tie the two albums together. Not quite as cohesive or consuming as its predecessor, Humor Risk is a good companion piece that helps take the edge off, and at times, gives you a glimpse into the lighter side of this sullen singer-songwriter. (Domino)