When the Cave Singers released their debut in 2007, it raised some eyebrows. Not because the record was unconventional or outside the realm of the indie-rock spectrum, but because the band included Derek Fudesco, bassist of poppy, post-hardcore act Pretty Girls Make Graves, and it played folk music. Welcome Joy picks up where Invitation Songs left off. Minimalist percussion spreads a soft backdrop for delicate acoustic picking and the sort of warm electric leads that should be played sitting down. With his gruff storyteller cadence and calm demeanor, singer Pete Quirk takes center stage. These songs are about his aches and pains, his triumphs and pitfalls, his moment to step down off the back porch and share a bit of worldly wisdom. And while he does bring the passion — like the best bits of blues and folk — these songs never boil, just simmer. It's this fidelity to tradition that may be the Cave Singers' only weak point. Americana has been a shit-hot genre in indie circles for nearly a decade now, and if you don't stand out, it's hard to hold your own with the vets. — Matt Whelihan
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