Now that singer/songwriter John McCauley (a.k.a. Deer Tick) has found two talented road warriors to complement his own vagabond existence, what was once essentially a one-man enterprise is now a full-blown band. Fortunately, a sense of timeless solitude still pervades his fingerpicked country/blues ditties. All the grit, depth and minimalism flow naturally and remain without pretension — which is even more impressive, considering it's wrung straight from the gut of a troubadour scarcely old enough to drink. Perhaps McCauley is just trying to avoid irksome "next Dylan" comparisons by emphasizing a team effort, but in both vocal tonality and jingle-jangle stomp, last year's War Elephant ("Baltimore Blues No. 1" in particular) undeniably evokes Zimmy at the height of his own tangled-up "Blue" streak.
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