REVIEW: Caamp “Lavender Days”


Caamp got the inspiration for the title of their latest album, Lavender Days, from periods of time in life that present “small pleasures and forgotten disappointments” – the kind of days that may not leave an immediate mark but end up resonating far down the line. After two-plus years of life-defining events – for the band’s primary songwriter, Taylor Meier, and for just about all of us – it’s an unexpected comfort to recall the little things that make up most of life.

Lavender Days begins with an invitation of sorts – “Come With Me Now” implores its partner to “Come with me to the creek, darlin’/I got something to show you.” Caamp’s trademark Americana-meets-old time string band sound fully kicks in (after a beer is audibly cracked) with the second track, “Believe,” full of big guitar strums and a wide-open plan for the day – “And when that sun shines through ‘til the break of dawn/Baby grab the keys and leave the dogs at home,” describing a day shading toward the happy side of lavender.

True to its mission, and somewhat countering Caamp’s consistent head-toward-the-big-horizon sound, Lavender Days takes note of the little things, both good and not-so. “Apple Tree Blues,” a bouncy, banjo-laced tune, argues for chasing happiness, damn the consequences – “Tell me all the things you want to do but you can’t/’Cause you’re going to hell.” “Fever” is a bluesy number (featuring pop-ins from Nathaniel Rateliff and Katie Crutchfield of Waxahatchee fame) deals with the mysterious nature of occasional depression – “Many times I’ve been down/Many times I’ve been low/Many times pulled under by a weight I don’t quite know” – while acknowledging that a bounce-back is always right around the corner – “Go now, rise up like a fever/And give us a brand new day.” And “Lavender Girl,” the emotional crux of the record, finds a reason for surviving all of those ups and downs – “I’ve never danced, ‘til I danced with you my love/Couldn’t hear the music, but I’m sure it was good stuff.” Bolstered by gorgeous guitar and banjo interplay and the best group vocals on the record, even the sad moments bring a kind of melancholy joy – “I’ve never looked into eyes as clear as yours/And every time I lose it, nothing matters more.” Lavender Days doesn’t aspire to be the “feel-good” album of the year, but manages to accomplish something even more rewarding – being a feel-normal album. After the past few years, we deserve that.

Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Believe” – Layering on vocals on instruments and climaxing in a wistful guitar solo, it would be a great way to start a show…

Lavender Days was written by Caamp with Beatriz Artola (additional production by Brad Cook), recorded by Brandon MacLean, Jon Ashley and Cook, mixed by Artola and mastered by Bob Ludwig. Caamp is Taylor Meier (vocals, guitars, Mellotron, percussion), Evan Westfall (harmony vocals, banjo, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, Mellotron), Matt Vinson (harmony vocals, electric bass, double bass, baritone guitar) and Joe Kavalec (piano, Rhodes, organ, keyboards). All songs were written by the band – lyrics by Meier and Vinson. Additional musicians on the record include Phil Cook (piano, keyboards), Matthew McCaughan (drums, percussion), Jon Ashley (drums), Nick Sanborn (accordion) Liz Fisher (violin), Katie Crutchfield (harmony vocals) and Nathaniel Rateliff (harmony vocals).

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