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The Cradle - "The Layers Of Honey" | Album Review

by Charles Hoyt (@charlie_ben_h)

The first time I had heard about The Cradle was when their split tape with Old Table, Journey to the Inside-Out Eye came out. I instantly loved the folky instrumentation and introspective lyrics of Paco Cathcart. Cathcart’s latest release as The Cradle, The Layers of Honey, is an album of lo-fi folk songs intertwined with noise and some interesting and lively rhythms. The quieter songs on this album hold some beautifully written acoustic guitar parts and charming vocals, with great use of falsetto and lovely melodies. Other than Paco Cathcart, this album features vocals and accordion courtesy of Ani Ivry-Block (Palberta). Ivry-Block’s additions to the album help create some of the immensely beautiful harmonies. The album has overarching themes and motifs of time, memory, and the past. The Cradle put together a lovely album of experimental folk songs that are reminiscent of lo-fi outfits such as Daniel Johnston and Salvia Palth.

Similar to the earlier, Abacus of Love, The Cradle bring together a concise collection of songs; it may be short, but it is definitely sweet. The motifs of time and memories conveyed on Layers are very relatable -- I find myself thinking about the line, “Faces from the past/some come back again/faces I haven’t seen since I was nine or ten” quite a bit. Cathcart’s line conveys a feeling that I have definitely felt before about the fuzzy memories of people you used to know. The Layers Of Honey is full of warm songs that invoke other places and other people.

The album feels simultaneously natural and electronic; songs without the experimental and exciting rhythm parts feel as if they could have come from any time period from the 1960’s to now, where as funkier songs invoke hip-hop beats and a crashing of genres. “Why’s The Light Off?” is a good example of hip-hop-esque beats working well with the songwriting of Cathcart. The fast pace beat keeps the slower tempo of Paco’s vocal part moving through this simple song. It is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Layers is not a conventional folk album, but Cathcart’s songs work well enough together to lend a strangely folky vibe to this incredible piece of art.

The Layers of Honey is a well put-together collection of experimental folk songs that bring about themes of memory, as well as a past that Cathcart may not be able to remember accurately. It is an exciting group of songs that are at times intricate folk songs, and at others noisy beats under lovely harmonies from Cathcart and Ani Ivry-Block. Extra instrumentation by Ivry-Block adds a nice extra layer to the song, “Can’t Recall the Good Times”. Paco Cathcart’s song writing is well done and always has me wanting more. Highlights from this record include “Why Is The Light Off?,” “Justice Rider,” and “Faces From The Past.” Those tracks are the songs that I keep finding stuck in my head and humming while I’m walking to the subway. The Cradle’s latest album, The Layers of Honey is a lovely, interesting, and well thought out collection of songs that really make you think about your own thoughts about the past, and at the same time, maybe even get you to hum or sing along.