Castanets generally fall on the darker side of the musical spectrum, and In The Vines is no exception. The black hole of the Castanets is Ray Raposa, and it’s not hard to hear the struggle in his journey as the songs drift along gently towards a better place, and ultimately, a sense of resolution. With all the darkness and yearning in Raposa’s voice and lyrics, there’s a strong glow of hope and warmth that resonates very clearly throughout most of In The Vines, and with it, a slow, deliberate motion; there’s not a note in this record that isn’t meant to be there, and with slight movement the music swells and decays with restrained intensity.
“Rain Will Come” opens the record and sets the tone for all to follow, with a rambling acoustic guitar rhythm that drives along under Raposa’s stormy narrative and continues as the vocals yield and dissonant electronic shrieks cry out. “Westbound, Blue” is reminiscent of Tom Waits at his most country, telling his love she can have all of him that his surroundings don’t take first. “The Fields Crack” is ethereal and brooding and meanders along like a cross-country trip.
Raposa’s history involves a kind of modern nomadic living, and the music he makes with Castanets serves as a soundtrack to the film of that life. You hear a traveler at work in these songs, and the search seems to be more about understanding where he’s at than looking for something new. It’s this interest and reverence to his reality that gives the troubling task of sorting through it a subtle and haunted gleam. The instrumentation is sparse throughout, and Castanets use this space to let the tone and character of their parts fully resonate. In The Vines breathes and swells like a living human being and this darkly gentle record thus has a lot of life to it.