Andy Cabic's Vetiver is at it again with the hazy velvety acoustic American music that makes for some of this summer's most enjoyable listening. A heavier effort, To Find Me Gone is not as freshly startling as the well-received and well-loved self-titled debut of two years ago though loses nothing save the street-cred of having heard it first from its predecessor. On the face of things, this sophomore effort may prove less demanding to listeners, but that shouldn't be confused with worth.
What it isn't: a heavily ambitious self-important or challenging sonic statement.
What it is: a recollection from an emerging voice, and an exceptionally pleasant one at that.
Rooted in that place between here and there, To Find Me Gone chronicles--sonically, rather than linearly--the time from Vetiver's public outing and happy acceptance, the fertile cross-pollination of making music with current scene lighting-rod Devendra Banhart, and Cabic's tightening focus. As such, Gone luxuriates in the warmth of stripped-down songsmithing, occasional layers of strings, themes of absence and arrival, leaning into the now with charmingly imperfect vocals at center. With the samely named dark earthy sweetness of my favorite essential oil, Vetiver is sensual, and a little unwashed.
There is a comforting sameness to the record's tone, not unlike always finding oneself on the road, and not exactly certain where home is, despite the difference of temperature, light or lack thereof, and food or culture specific to a region. As with that journey called marriage, ideals and values come out weighed and measured, hoisted and bolstered, and pushing against one another, forever changing the individual landscape in favor of a shared one that commingles experience in shades of humanity's grays and browns. Life gets muddy. On the road or just not Here. This is a something that Cabic and his crew know well and, with the aid of Thom Monahan again at the producer's helm, Vetiver expresses quite beautifully.To Find Me Gone houses no centerpiece like the previous record's "Angel's Share," but with the pair "Idle Ties" and "Won't Be Me," Vetiver declares its need for a compass and sets out firmly to find it. The former employs some of the most delightful workman-like musicality of all the recording, and the latter picks up the loping gait of the sameness for a slightly punchy Feelies-like mid-tempo jangle. And in the end, it all comes down to the Banhart co-write "Down At El Rio" which goes all watery and lazy dazy, telling us that nothing is to be taken too seriously. It's only life.
Paige La Grone Babcock