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Music: Wit's End by Cass McCombs ****

The press bumf for this fourth album from the Californian (by way of Baltimore) suggests he has made a dark album. And dark it most certainly is. A cursory listen to the funereal Buried Alive suggests a troubled soul. Other songs are, by turns, melancholic and menacing. There's little light to be found amid the gloom.

Yet, it is to McCombs' immense credit that the material doesn't feel self-indulgent. That's partly because of the exquisite musicianship on show, and also because of his lyrical strengths -- he truly has a poet's eye for detail.

With a number of songs clocking in around the 10-minute mark, Wit's End requires a certain amount of work by the listener, but as with last month's Josh T Pearson album (which also features lengthy songs), those who persevere will reap rich reward. McCombs plays the Grand Social, Dublin, on May 26.

Burn it: Buried Alive; A Knock Upon the Door

Day & Night