I can’t usually get on board with anything that has a whiff of “21st Century Update” about it – but perhaps the reason I haven’t had any such issue with The Cactus Blossoms’ You’re Dreaming is because though Minnesotan brothers, Page Burkum and Jack Torrey, do indeed mine the past – a past that arguably doesn’t even belong to them – they do it with such…authenticity talent, such skill…yes, it feels real (every step of the way) but most importantly it sounds good.
We’re back in the pre-Rock’n’Roll country days of The Everly Brothers, The Louvin Brothers even. There’s a wee hint of Elvis’ country/gospel spell and certainly you could spot some listening to Roy Orbison but these originals, though built from parts of the past, never feel like they’ve merely been cobbled together.
Theses are classic heartbreak ballads (I Can’t Win, Queen of them All) and though sometimes we get a bit of a train rhythm and some of early rock’n’rolls clack-a-clack, for the most part this is slow-strummed searching for that high, lonesome sound. Don Gibson, Hank and Woody, the Dylan of You Belong To Me, all touchstones. But for it to work it has to be good – and it is thanks to the heavenly harmonies, the ear for a tune, the skill in making this feel so real.
That said there’s a worry that one more round like the track and it will start to feel like a wax museum. So it’s what The Cactus Blossoms do after this that will be most important. But for right now this is a wonderful record full of really great songs and startling, honest, heartfelt performances.
I love what they’ve done here. I love what I hear.