It is very rare to get a chance to hear a musician that has been working on eir skills for 65 years; the resulting music on “Saw Mill Man” has a patience inherent in it that really shows this maturity. I would say that ey sounds like Johnny Cash, even though King is six years eir senior. There is little excess to this disc; every track essentially consists of King’s vocals and acoustic guitar, even considering the added contributions of Matt Downer (electric guitar at times) and Bill Kent’s drums on “Saw Mill Man”. However little there is in terms of actual instruments, there is still a fullness to “Saw Mill Man” that is hard to surpass even with an overabundance of instruments.
At some point, there is a root kernel of pop music tat is at its most raw during “Saw Mill Man”; tracks are traditionally only a few seconds over two minutes and show Cast King as the purveyor of the most honest music possible. During tracks like “Low Low Blues”, there seems to be a comparative aspect to King’s music that go beyond simple country and folk lines; the vocal nuances that occur during the track closely identify with yodeling more than any other form. What may be hard for listeners to appreciate is the amount of inference that the average listener must make when they turn on “Saw Mill Man”. With the previously mentioned Spartan arrangements, individuals must tie together the disparate and disconnected elements, almost like finding all the constituent points of the story when only having the titles of the chapters.
The process in which “Saw Mill Man” was recorded is perfect for the format; this is not a storied master playing alone in a dark studio, but “weekly informal picking sessions that we share.” There seems to be a resurgence in this older generation of musicians; whether this is a because of a disaffected feeling with the music of today or just a desire to catalog everything possible that preceded the current era, the fact that Cast King is on a disc today bodes well for the music industry. There is not necessarily a theme to this album, just a number of songs that resonate with music past and present by tapping into something primeval, mournful, and always impressive. Well worth the money for fans of older country, or even of good music at all, “Saw Mill Man” is suited for any era.
Top Tracks: Low Low Blues, Saw Mill Man
Cast King – Saw Mill Man / 2005 Locust / 12 Tracks / http://www.locustmusic.com/castking.html / http://www.locustmusic.com / Reviewed 28 December 2005