Chicago-based songwriter Ross Cashiola has managed to put together Marfa’s closest approximation of an “it” band. Under the Hotel Brotherhood banner, the sculptor and part-time Marfa resident (sparked by a Chinati Foundation internship) seems to open for everyone worth seeing who comes through Marfa; in fact Austin’s own Heartless Bastards recently backed him during the El Cosmico music festival. Musically, Cashiola’s a great ambassador for the artsy desert outpost, producing country music bare as floorboards, matched by bracing, literary lyrics. Hotel Brotherhood’s second album pairs Cashiola’s lyrical contributions and earnest vocals with gorgeous instrumentation, especially Sam Wagster’s polished guitar, pedal steel, and piano work on “Two Rights a Wrong,” “Wild Clouds,” and “Wild Rose Pass,” respectively. Singers Jessica Moore and Jenny Walton-Wetzel help soften the austerity, though some songs, like the excellent character-driven “Rudi Corales,” need no adornment. Much like Marfa, Pairs of Things isn’t a fast-paced, thrill-a-minute ride, but instead captivates with its spare, slow simplicity.
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