Album review: The Cactus Blossoms, ‘You’re Dreaming,’ a brilliant debut

Brothers Page Burkum and Jack Torrey (his stage name) sing in precise, maple and honey-mixed close harmony with stunning results, their similarity to the immortal Everly Brothers uncanny. But their band The Cactus Blossoms is anything but a mere nostalgia act.

“You’re Dreaming” — their debut—beams with one sunny rockabilly tune after another, the music rooted in a bygone era but Cactus Blossoms You're Dreamingsounding fresh, enticing, and even necessary today. Composed primarily by Torrey, the songs make you feel great, no matter their tenor — or yours. A day-dreamy “You’re Dreaming,” charging “Change Your Ways or Die,” and very up and witty “Clown Collector” all intoxicate equally.

Burkum had been leading the local Minneapolis alt-country Blood Washed Band, specializing in gospel and country tradition. His wistful “Powder Blue” floats like a spirit, the power of real country music — heartfelt and performed that way — mesmerizing. Of course, they do know how to rock as well.

Hard-edged, “No More Crying the Blues” by the little-known Sun Records duo Alton & Jimmy, proves it, causing a fine ruckus near the end. Anyone familiar with the British band Rockpile take note. Dave Edmunds and Nick Lowe operated that fine little quartet in the 1970s in a Sun frame of mind. No surprise then that The Cactus Blossoms recently toured with Lowe. A beautiful, subtle Spanish lilt in “Adios Maria” shows that the sensibilities and capabilities afoot on this brilliant album bode quite well for the future. Blooming, radiantly. Watch them.

The Cactus Blossoms
You’re Dreaming”
Red House Records

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ABOUT Tom Clarke

Tom Clarke
From pre-war blues to the bluegrass of the Virginia hills, Tom Clarke has a passion for most any kind of deep-rooted American music, and has been writing about it for 25 years. He’s particularly fond of anything from Louisiana, Los Lobos, and the Allman Brothers Band and its ever-growing family tree. Tom’s reviews and articles have appeared in BluesPrint, the King Biscuit Times, Hittin’ The Note, Kudzoo, Blues Revue, Elmore, Blues Music Magazine, and now, Tahoe Onstage. Tom and his wife Karen have raised four daughters in upstate New York. They split their time between the Adirondack Mountains and coastal South Carolina.

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