'With the march of spring and a cumulus adieu comes an urge to travel, to indulge what the Boss called a hungry heart and what Cascade Rye illustrates so enticingly in “Baby, Let’s Go,” the road-gnawing getaway that opens its eponymous debut. Fatten a van with seekers, aim it toward a speck and vanish under cover of bug-gut windshield into the promise of else.
The roots-cured unit corrals that impulse in Chris Arellano’s low-throttle six-string mutter and guttural pine. An inviting stretch is unspooled for Kalyn and Jake Payne’s top-down wanderlust. “I’ve been holdin’ back and holdin’ on,” they sing, but no more, as they hit that exit for new adventures. (Jailbreak’s no fun sans partner-in-crime.)
We should count ourselves fortunate that on a continent dotted with larger reputations, the Paynes have made this valley their home. The couple runs Tangent’s Dixie Creek Saloon — name-checked in “Give Her Everything,” a buzzsaw-serrated ode to dreams shared with a dream girl, even if they don’t come true — where they’ve graciously hosted an endless procession of local noise: rock, country, metal — anything four solid walls can contain.
Much like the Creek itself, Cascade Rye moves as a colorful summit of disciplines, with Arellano’s drawling lap-steel, Jake Payne’s solid rhythms and a hillstomp bliss in every Scott Eastburn mandolin/violin curl. Kalyn Payne drives acoustic reservoirs and sultry keys (the magnificent “Fear and Freedom,” intoxicated by Arellano’s twilight purr) across an impressive songbook. The band’s adept at country-suffused contemplation, but give ’em a match and they’ll torch a wild metropolis.
And the he/she harmonies — there ain’t no richer yearn. In the devastating “Letting Go,” Kalyn eradicates an old beau in the most modern way by deleting him from her cellphone, an intimate execution. A mandolin winds through the pain (the same one that tickles the spine of “Rodeo Circus”). Jake, as the song’s male counterpart, augments her despair as a kindred maudlin spirit — or her melancholy target — somewhere further in town.
The duo explores a different relationship in “Be My Lover,” which presents Kalyn in the kind of lonesome funk that can only be allayed with liquid determination, a silent clinch and no expectations beyond the fulfillment of need (“I hate to call you when I’m drinkin’ / It’s the only time I can get up the nerve”). “You don’t have to say a word,” she instructs her partner, who does as he’s told, only offering chorus support in a delicate waltz toward the inevitable.
Yet we cannot escape the notion of escape, of conquering anxiety to embrace the unknown. Cascade Rye ambles toward the finish with a scorcher of a mover called “One,” all toothsome riffs and volcanic desperation as Kalyn brings urgency to a character who didn’t split when she had the opportunity. It features a nice callback to “Baby, Let’s Go,” as if revealing that song as mere dalliance in afternoon fantasy. “You only get one chance to dance around the sun,” she philosophizes, and ain’t that the truth.
Closer “She Loves Trains” stands in stripped-down contrast: loud guitars peal in the distance, taunting Jake and his younger, free-spirited beloved as they stand at a set of railroad tracks. She craves whatever waits down the line; all he imagines is the eventual collision of two incompatible souls. “I’m gonna break her heart someday,” he predicts. “She’s gonna break mine, too, I guess / Seems we’re just the same / It’s the perfect mess.” Even when you see it comin’, it’s hard sometimes to step from the path. But Cascade Rye brings shelter and release to itinerant hearts in any condition.
Cascade Rye visits Albany for an 8 p.m. Saturday, March 16, performance at the Calapooia Brewing Company, 140 Hill St. N.E. Admission is free."