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Leaving Traces - Songs, 1994-2004

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Album Review

This extensive 18 track, nearly 80-minute compilation is an excellent and much needed summary of the plaintive singer/songwriter's rather turbulent career. An American who is much better known in Europe, Casal's eight albums and EPs over the titular decade show glimpses of brilliance amidst material slightly less stellar. In other words, his output is inconsistent, which makes this a perfect entry point for those who haven't tuned in previously. Possessing a lovely, lilting tenor voice — at times sounding like Squeeze's Glenn Tilbrook — Casal is often compared to Jackson Browne and Neil Young due to introspective songs similar to the former ("Free Light of Day") and the ability to rock out when necessary with layered guitars ("Eddy & Diamonds") of the latter. There is an ease of performance here that transcends time, making these folk-country-rock songs sound effortless and natural. Even though they were recorded over a ten-year period, the album's non-chronological sequencing makes this feel like a seamless recording. The classy and thoughtfully laid-out 24-page book fills in Casal's back history, detailing his story through quotes from the artist and a meticulous track listing that includes all sidemen and lyrics to the songs. The end result is the portrait of a performer who, due to the usual bad business breaks, should be a much better-known quantity, at least in America. The album loses a little steam in its final third with a few too many ballads programmed back to back, but the songwriting and performance quality is so consistently resilient that this is a minor complaint. A second DVD included in some versions of the package features a documentary along with demos and live tracks. It further enhances this near definitive overview of an artist that has, unfortunately, fallen through the cracks. An obscure find well-worth searching out.

Customer Reviews

You GOTTA see him live

I've know this artist a long time. These songs are amazing (check out the photos on his site!!!) They sound great here. I own them all. But when you hear them live, they're like different songs. He feeds off of the people in the room that way. And he's a very nice guy. Check him out, it's great chill music.

Classic!

Neal Casal....a hard working musician. Great song writer and most of all a great performer! These are the musicians that real music lovers appreciate! Great collection of tunes here....enjoy!

Biography

Born: November 2, 1968 in Denville, NJ

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Born in New Jersey on November 2, 1968, country-rock songwriter Neal Casal enjoyed an acclaimed solo career before joining Ryan Adams' backing band, the Cardinals, in the mid-2000s. Casal had a restless childhood following the divorce of his parents, spending time in such various states as Georgia, California, Michigan, Florida, and upstate New York. At the age of 13, he received what would prove to be the catalyst for his music career: the twin gifts of a guitar and a copy of the Rolling Stones'...
Full Bio