Goodbye to the Rank and File

Artist: Casey Neill & the Norway Rats

Produced by: In Music We Trust Reords

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Casey Neill has come a long way from his early beginnings as a folk punk singer in the Pacific Northwest.  It was there that he began his career, self-releasing his first politically charged folk punk album, Riffraff, in 1995.  Signed to Appleseed Records in in 1997, he released three well-received albums on their label.  In 2002, a move to Brooklyn, New York introduced Neill to electric bands, an introduction which would have a profound effect on his later music. 

            In 2006, Casey Neill came back to Portland, Oregon and enlisted numerous musician friends to form the band known as the Norway Rats, featuring Ezra Holdbrook on drums and vocals, Chet Lyster on guitar, Little Sue on vocals, Jenny Conlee on keyboards and accordion, Jesse Emerson on bass and Hanz Araki on flutes, whistles and vocals.  Signed to the In Music We Trust Records label, the band released their first album, Brooklyn Bridge, in 2007.  Their latest album, Goodbye to the Rank and File, debuted in May of 2010.

            Goodbye to the Rank and File features twelve tracks of what can only be described as country meets folk meets rock music.  Casey Neillís vocals are raspy and soulful in the style of Bruce Springsteen and John Cafferty.  The songs contain well-though out lyrics that speak of youthful hope, pain and anguish, uplifting love, but mostly, thereís a sort of sadness that pervades this entire album. 

            Each of the songs tell a detailed story.  Itís as if each track is written about an episode in one manís life - like writing a story around a snapshot moment.  I found this style of lyric writing to be highly affective and quite touching.  One could actually relate to some of the songs while others reminded the listener of someone they knew.  Some of my favorite songs were the more uplifting songs like All Summer Glory and When I Came to You, although I did enjoy some of the tracks with sadder undertones like Night Owl and the Skylark (I love the message in that one) and Guttered.

            Goodbye to the Rank and File is a collection of soulful and moving songs performed in a unique style containing storytelling lyrics and heart-touching tales.  Although each member of the Casey Neill & the Norway Rats has their own projects they are working on, I believe that this band is a terrific example of what musicians of various walks and styles can do when they come together over a single project.  Goodbye to the Rank and File has made an excellent addition to my music collection.


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