Published Mar 25, 2016Sam Cash has called his new album Tongue-in-Cheek Vows; it's an inaccurate title, but the moniker of his grimy, bluesy, garage-y backing band, the Romantic Dogs, couldn't be more suitable. When the Toronto songsmith sings, in his declarative delivery, "We could get drunk and try to kiss girls," on "That Was the Summer," his tone is purely, unabashedly sincere. On "Act Like We're In Love," he and the Dogs evoke Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart"— booming drums, chiming melancholy keys, vastly open hearted choruses et al.
And while much of the LP lacks the cheeky snark that its title implies, that is certainly nothing to gripe about. This is an album for the earnest, the yearning, for the shamelessly romantic. It's an album for long summer drives down wide open highways, with the windows cranked all the way down. That sentiment is not only evident in Cash's lyrics and vocals, but also in the Romantic Dogs' playing. "Radio Waves," for instance, has a climactic guitar solo that careens and screeches like a Corvette in a tailspin. The guitar revs even more brazenly— subdued only by the combustive, sputtering drums— on "I Know You're Only Laughing."
Better still, Cash knows how to maintain that romantic relatability on the LP's sole downtempo number, "Won't Think Twice." It finds the frontman hoarsely imploring his "darlin'" not to worry as they lay on a car's "hood, pretendin' not to give a damn," while slinky strummed acoustic notes reverberate in the background. So no, Cash's open heartedness won't win over any cheeky, irony inclined cynics, but that's okay, because he and the Romantic Dogs know how to speak to us dogged romantics. (Cameron House)