King Cardinal

There are only four tracks on King Cardinal's self-titled debut EP, and all four give a clear idea of what this alt-folk sextet is capable of. Even so, it's hard to get past the hauntingly beautiful opener, "A Short Trip to Mackinac Island," because the song demands repeat listens. With sparse instrumentation and heavily reverberated harmonies, its main focus is Brennan Mackey's warm vocals and vivid lyrics like "In this cabin I can feel your ghost/Sweep through the living room an ethereal host/And you left a book on the kitchen chair/Open to a page you read when you were here." While Mackey's voice is akin to that of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon on the song (as well as on "For Bobby Dunbar"), it's deeper and more pronounced on "Fixin to Rain," where he sounds closer to Bill Callahan.

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