2010 marks the metamorphosis of Cadillac Sky from a critically-acclaimed bluegrass band to a band without boundaries. Already praised as "original", "innovative", "fearless", "ambitious", "propulsive" and "a marvel of emotion and razor sharp focus", Letters In The Deep (to be released in June on Dualtone Records) has Cadillac Sky moving further into new territory.
With Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys at the producer’s helm, this album corroborates Cadillac Sky’s bluegrass roots (using many techniques that seem to have been forsaken in the genre throughout the years) while at the same time departing into the great beyond, schlepping suitcases full of classical influences, rock and pop, on the way to expanding musical frontiers.
Letters In The Deep finds Matt Menefee, known for his “other world” banjo playing, sitting behind an upright piano, banging on the drums, playing the glockenspiel… It finds David Mayfield, guitarist extraordinaire, adding percussion; mandolinist Bryan Simpson playing guitar, violin, and ‘Thrilla-Fiddla’ Ross Holmes playing mandolin and melotron. Andy “Panda” Moritz also takes turns at piano, percussion, and weaving bass lines of increasingly subtle complexity; all combine to reveal a richly textured musical tapestry.
Cadillac Sky has explored a lot of new terrain ‘live’ on stage and, with the addition of David ‘Mayhem’ Mayfield on guitar, the band has developed into one of the most exciting rock-shows around. That new energy yielded an abundance of new tunes. There are so many musical treats in Letters In The Deep that it becomes a Smörgåsbord for connoisseurs of great music present and past. Ambition steers Cadillac Sky. The self-chosen benchmarks are high. David Mayfield: “I wonder if Paul Simon had any idea that he was writing a perfect song when he sat down in the summer 1969 and scribbled out the first two verses of ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’. Will I ever make a piece of music that speaks to a generation like that? I will die proud knowing I tried.”
2009 was a year of great turmoil for the guys in Cadillac Sky both personally and collectively. Through those trials grew a greater dependence on God. Bryan states:”It seems like the closer I get to knowing God, the more I recognize how far from perfect I am. The humility that comes from recognizing who you are in God is liberating and allows a freedom that is hard to put into words.” That renewed sense of humility is a large part of the sound of this record. It is not a record that screams look at “me”; it's a record that says this is who "WE" are. You can almost hear the guys saying “for better or worse”.
The Akron sessions were pivotal moments for Cadillac Sky. The whole idea of standing in front of a microphone… with Dan Auerbach’s mantra of “BE who YOU are RIGHT NOW” resounding, being fully present in that moment in time, not having the safety net of a computer to “fix” anything… just the immediacy of the HERE and NOW…That acceptance of themselves as musicians and of their own sound was an outgrowth and an expression of personal experience and development. Pride ceased to be an issue. It is no longer "hey I'm the guitar player, you can’t play guitar on this song!" and instruments travel from hand to hand to add the feel that a song needed.
Working with Dan Auerbach resulted in an honest, breathing piece of art that doesn’t sound digitally cleaned up or tuned or cut and pasted. Dan played a very inspiring role with a hands-off production approach, totally concentrating on shaping the sound of the record. Bryan: “As a producer, Dan was a God-send. When we initially talked he asked me what I wanted to achieve with this record. After I hemmed and hawed for a few minutes, he stated pretty clearly what I had been most un-eloquently trying to get across: to make a record that was accessible from the first listen but one that continued to evolve, unveiling new corners of its character with each repeated listen.”
Dan drove the band to be authentic and be gut-wrenchingly real. The players would have to make decisions when tracking, fixing it in the mix wouldn't be possible. “It really is us in a room in Akron, Ohio, for better or for worse, it’s utterly personal.”
The audience needs freshness and excitement to bring back the basics of why they love music and the new Cadillac Sky album wakes the soul to that. Honest music by a band of guys that push each other to be their best, both musically and personally, and to bring out a mirror-sheen honesty in the listener. Andy ‘Panda’ Moritz:”It takes effort from both sides, the listener and the artist... You need to come to terms with the sheer amount of music that is out there. 500 years of creativity… that’s a lot of material to encounter, absorb, process, and reflect upon.”
Producer Dan Auerbach:”They rose to the occasion. There’s really beautiful sounds on “Letters In The Deep”, it is as much of a living album as it is an art piece and I’m definitely proud to have my name attached to this project. Whatever genre it is, it’s a really great album, and I’m happy that I got to make it”.