I was entranced by Melaena Cadiz's first release, Rattle the Windows. The spell hasn't been broken, though Deep Below Heaven comes from a decidedly more punchier place than her quiet, measured debut album.
The only time I've seen Cadiz play live was -- gosh -- three years ago at a free concert in a basement bar on one of the first nice days of spring. The band played to an empty room but they so didn't care. Deep Below Heaven is decidedly more of a group effort, even if Cadiz's name is on the album cover. That's not to say she shouldn't be the main attraction here; her curiously Dylan-esque delivery on "Neon Drag" would be a stand-out performance on its own. But combine that with the torch song "Dreams" and you'll find a singer with amazing breadth, in addition to the depth of her lyrics.
The gentlemen standing behind Cadiz certainly deserve their share of their limelight. These songs were written to feature Cadiz's chops but the band brings a uniquely contemporary sensibility to the Americana featured on Deep Below Heaven. For the raw talent, outstanding growth, and adventurous push Deep Below Heaven takes, I am willing to put this album in as a contender for best of 2014.
Melaena Cadiz -- Official, Facebook, Wild Kindness Records, Bandcamp