(4 out of 5)
There are only a few moments on NO WITCH when the Cave Singers work themselves up into a frenzy. And that’s a good thing. The gravelly, slow-burn drama that permeates the Seattle group’s third album is fraught with enough soulful tension and spiritual catharsis that the idea of hammering the point home with volume and forthright aggression would seem somewhat masochistic on the band’s part. Of course, that masochism does rear its head a couple of times – most notably on the fiery, roots-rock purge of “Black Leaf” and the roiling, near-anthem of “No Prosecution If We Bail,” which closes the album out with a bluesy, baleful explosion. It’s on those moments when the Cave Singers draw a line back to lead singer Derek Fudesco’s earlier work in Pretty Girls Make Graves and the Murder City Devils, but by this point – some four years after PGMG called it a day – those similarities are more vestigial than defining. Instead, NO WITCH shows how the Cave Singers have evolved into something far more subtle and scary; cuts like “Swim Club” and “Clever Creatures” move slowly but purposefully, recasting Americana into something that hints at being wiry, wild, and worrisome, but that ultimately leaves the listener with a chill down their spine, rather than sweat on their brow.