Casey Neill & the Norway Rats – Goodbye To The Rank and File

  • Jenna Cosgrove posted
  • Reviews

Casey Neill & the Norway Rats

Goodbye To The Rank and File - In Music We Trust Records

It’s not often I come across an album that, even on the second and third listen, I can’t fault. I’m picky. There’s normally something I don’t like, something that interrupts the flow of the album, a lyric that doesn’t fit or an instrument that doesn’t blend. This is not the case with Goodbye to the Rank and File.

This is a bar-raising release by Casey Neill and the Norway RatsNeill, a veteran musician with a past in punk rock and a passion for the Clash, lends the album a strong roots rock vibe. It’s an American album through and through, both in sound and theme.

The music itself is almost shockingly accomplished. Neill is a talented vocalist and his moody voice suits the feel of the songs perfectly, while the rest of the band fit together to make up the refined roots sound. The album is full of well-placed harmonies with angelic backing vocals by Little Sue playing off Neill’s strong, masculine lead.

In theme, this is an album that touches on love, loss, life and bitter defeat, all viewed through a distinctly Northwest American eye. The song writing belongs up with the classics of this or any genre – there are no clichés, forced rhymes or awkward phrasing. It seems effortless but if you listen closely it is the lyrics that lifts this album up well above average.

Each song invokes a sense of imagery that is rarely found in modern music. There is a firm sense of time and place in each track and this is down to the evocative lyrics and the way the music reflects the mood of each line, each verse and each song as a whole. There is nothing haphazard here – there is a commitment to the central theme and sound that is confident and unflinching.

Neill is a storyteller of the highest order. There are no abstract moments; each song is a story in its own right. Standouts such as Guttered and Night Owl and the Skylark are perfect examples of this. Neillmanages to transport us to snow-covered graveyards, to the grass plains of Montana, to fading old railway tracks. I have never been there, but I am there, right alongside Neill as he experiences every gut-wrenching heartbreak and every lingering moment of happiness.
I rarely give a perfect score to any album, but there is nothing here that isn’t perfect – this is top shelf stuff in every respect. Each of these five stars is fully deserved and I expect they will be just a handful of many more in the near and bright future for Casey Neill and the Norway Rats.