Album Review: Calling Cadence — s/t

One of the appealing qualities of what we might call 1970s FM rock was its ecelcdticism. Artists could borrow freely from country, blues, even soul or jazz and fold those characteristics into their sound. And they could still call it rock, as opposed to country-rock or some other hyphenate.

Calling Cadence isn’t a ‘70s act. Fronted by Rae Cole and Oscar Bugarin, this L.A.-based group is here-and-now. But theirs is a sound that hearkens back to that era, with hints of everything from Neil Young to Van Morrison to any number of artists associated with the Laurel Canyon movement. Even the cover art – plain off-white with an image of an 8-track tape placed at its center – screams vintage. The closest modern-day touchstone I might suggest would be Jonathan Wilson, specifically his 2018 album Rare Birds.

There are also subtle hints of Mad Dogs & Englishmen (or Tedeschi Trucks Band, if you like your references with a 2ist century anchor to them) in the sounds of Calling Cadence. And the horns on “Good Day” might just elicit thoughts of Stevie Wonder circa “Superstition” or “Living for the City.” One thing you might notice about the band’s approach is the extent to which drummer Josh Adams eschews cymbals on some tracks; that choice gives a nice hypnotic feel to the rhythm section, and it suits the songs. But the heart of the band is centered around its two primary vocalists (Bugarin plays guitar as well). Cole’s warm and assured voice is reminiscent of Rita Coolidge; always a good thing, that.

Soulful is an adjective that’s thrown around often, but there’s value in the word. It communicates (or is meant to communicate) that which has an organic, authentic and emotionally-based character. And damn if Calling Cadence’s self-titled debut isn’t among the soulful-est albums I’ve heard in recent times.