Published Sep 11, 2020When Sameer Cash sings "the smoke sticks like a second skin," he is conjuring up images of Toronto. His new album, This City, is a rock and roll album; however slow, it has a steady beat. This music evokes images of walking up and down a familiar street, looking for a job, an apartment, or just something interesting to do on a street you have walked many times.
This music explores the idea of home — not completely in the warm sense, nor in the sense of desperately needing to escape, but of being suspended in a kind of limbo. Though the production quality is high, there is a certain basement sound to it, too.
This City opens with "Keep Kicking," which sets the tone with its slow and yet strong and steady electronic beat, combining high-pitched piano notes with low, rumbling vocal harmonies. The final track, "Easily", is a lovely acoustic guitar number, and the lyrics "We could drive until the sunset turns to ash" accompany the feel of the music and the overall sentiment of the album.
Both "This City" and "Driveway Moment" are piano-driven — not quite as dramatic as Billy Joel, but there is a hint of that classic sound.
There is this sense throughout the album that the tempo is about to speed up and the adrenaline is about to flow freely but that never quite happens. Interspersing the slow songs with some faster ones — akin to Cash's old band, the Romantic Dogs — might have made the album more appealing, but it also might have changed the sentiment.
The refrain for title track "This City" goes, "If this city keeps pushing me out, I'd like to see it live without me." It's like a frustrated love song — only involving a place, rather than a person. (Postwar Records)