||Hometown CD (1992)
Cages songs Rich, vibrant, lush, free...and that's just their hair. Of course, the Cages had more than good looks (and good locks) going for them: harmonies that invite comparison to the Everly Brothers and Simon & Garfunkel, folksy arrangements that sparkle like Desire-era Dylan, and a good harmonica player. Hometown includes two bona fide jewels, "Hometown" and "Walking Hand in Hand," plus a number of catchy cuts that, if not exactly inspired, are polished up pretty. It's a mystery why the pair didn't resurface for a second effort, since Capitol thought enough of them to bring in some of the industry's best backing musicians (including ex-Rolling Thunder Revue players Steven Soles and David Mansfield). Maybe they were mismarketed; selecting the cranky "Too Tired" as the advance single could have been an attempt to make inroads in the rock market, but it lacks the lovely harmonies that define their songs. The trouble with the Cages (if you're looking for trouble) is the absence of genius. Paul Simon, the Everly Brothers, and the best of the female folk-pop singers who cropped up in the '90s were driven by musical or lyrical innovation, something lacking on Hometown. Dig beneath the harmonies and the concise arrangements and you won't find much of substance, simply the usual assortment of love songs and light cheerleading. The closing "Lay Your Hand" is the darkest moment by far, meeting would-be metal bands in the middle with a ballad that reveals some internal demons, only to exorcise them with a salving harmony at the end. If the pair's songwriting skills had developed further, the Cages could have become commercial contenders. As it stands, they've left behind one disc, Hometown, with enough good music on it to please harmony-lovin' folk-pop fans. ~ Dave Connolly
The Cages: Clayton Cages (vocals, guitar), Aven (vocals, harmonica, Irish whistle, Indian medicine shaker, guitar, flute, soprano saxophone).
Additional personnel: D. George (guitar), S. Soles (guitars, bass, ...