Though not one to burn up the charts, Cass McCombs has been a hit with the critics since he first started releasing music. His last two records in particular, 2007’s Dropping the Writ and 2009’s Catacombs, have gone over quite well, and Wit’s End is a worthy follow-up to McCombs’ previous work. Even though the title depicts madness, the music is deceptively mellow and soothing. As the adage goes, sometimes it’s the quiet ones, and McCombs is able to slowly burn his way through to your core with his poignant lyrics and seductive darkness.
One arrested track is “The Lonely Doll,” a xylophone-tinged lullaby that involves more reality than happy storytelling. With other songs, it is easy to slip into a lull of just enjoying the record with the tracks blending together seamlessly. However, “Hermit’s Cave” has abrupt percussion that sounds like a pie plate being banged more than any traditional instrument, snapping you back to attention as the closing of the record nears. But the main standout track is also the last; “A Knock Upon the Door” is delightfully folky, sounding like something that could be improvised next to a fireplace rather than perfected inside a studio. It sprawls on for nearly ten minutes, but each one is necessary in wrapping up a record that would make fans of Andrew Bird, Iron and Wine, and Villagers quite content.