(Photo Credit - Caroline Gohlke)
Advance Review - Cut Worms: Nobody Lives Here Anymore (October 9, 2020)
My grandpa, Ivan Stowe, passed away in 1989, but I think about him often. However, within the last couple of weeks, my aunt, Barbara, died, and the house where she grew up was torn down by the current owners to put up a double-wide. Therefore, I have been in a very reflective state, and listening to Cut Worms’s Nobody Lives Here Anymore is making me even more nostalgic.
On the farm where Barbara grew up, there was a barn. Inside, a little woodshop sat to the left as soon as you opened the door and stepped in. My grandpa was retired by the time I was born, and many of my memories include him in his shop, piddling around on a small project while listening to music. Although his favorites were Jimmie Rodgers, Vernon Dalhart, Hank Snow, Louvin Brothers, Roy Drusky, and Conway Twitty, I can see Grandpa Stowe enjoying the storytelling ability of Max Clarke (the body of Cut Worms) and the comfortable, calm pace of his music.
I am not typically drawn to the Americana style of Nobody Lives Here Anymore. Still, I can appreciate the musician’s attraction to it. While the music sounds minimal, there are many layers. With Clarke’s lyrics, he has created an album that is both timeless but also very much in the moment, which is his goal. A critique of today’s culture and longing for a “childhood, a place that never really existed,” Cut Worm’s new album stands on the precipice of an uncertain future but wants to “harbor love and meaning inside a world that sold itself out.”
Starting with “The Heat is On,” Cut Worms keeps the pace of a cowboy reflecting on the world while riding a sauntering horse from outside a small city through rural America back to his country, childhood home. The rise in action is minimal, but the music is constant and consistent, driven by Clarke’s contemplative lyrics. A mix of old Country & Western, Blues, Americana, and Pop hits from the 45 era, Nobody Lives Here Anymore will take the listener back in time and showcase a side of our country’s musical history.
Final Thought - While I accept Clarke’s desire to not hold back, this album is a little too long. I understand he is addressing the short attention span of today’s population, but my appreciation wore down before Nobody Lives Here Anymore ended.
Favorite Songs - “Last Words To a Refugee,” “Every Once In A While,” and “The Golden Sky.”
Rating - 3.8/5 (I would have given it a 4 if it was a little shorter.)