There is a wonderful sense of dislocation as you listen to the music made by the Cactus Blossoms.
The sensation of hearing Everly Brothers-style harmonies laid against a light rockabilly shuffle in the age of TikTok and Snapchat — it’s disorienting, but not, as founders and siblings Page Burkum and Jack Torrey, simply trafficking in nostalgia for the sake of it.
“I know the first time I heard Hank Williams, I had no idea what I was listening to, and thought it sounded old — the recording,” Torrey said during a recent joint conversation with Burkum. “Stylistically, there was an aspect of it that sounded like it could be from tomorrow or from an alien world. … We’re not nostalgic — we don’t think the past is better than now, or worse. … It’s more about it being the kind of language we’ve learned and started to speak through.”
“Some of the style choices that might be … doing a three-chord, country song thing is rooted in some classic style,” Burkum said. “But we’ve definitely never been purists trying to recreate old music, you know?”
At whatever point on the timeline you happen to encounter the Cactus Blossoms, odds are good you’ll walk away a fan from hearing the Minneapolis-based band.
The group’s latest LP, last year’s One Day, veers beautifully from up-tempo folk-rock (opener “Hey Baby”) to R&B and country-stippled pop (“Is It Over”), all knit together by the soul-stirring alchemy of Page and Burkum’s harmonizing. The Cactus Blossoms will perform Friday at Fort Worth’s Tulips.
Were the gorgeous vocals and pleasing blend of a variety of sonic styles from America’s musical then and now all that the Cactus Blossoms had to offer, it would be more than enough. However, the songwriting — with Page and Burkum citing inspirations like acclaimed tunesmith Nick Lowe — is spring-loaded with lyrics which dance across your consciousness, only to linger upon reflection.
“It’s always a pleasure when you can have a double or triple meaning happening,” Burkum said. “You can kind of rotate the song around and get different impressions. That’s something I like to do.”
Whatever meaning, whatever style or whatever insight a listener takes from hearing the Cactus Blossoms on record, or in concert, Torrey and Burkum do hope one sensation rises above all others.
“Hopefully it can bring some sanity to people, in some kind of way,” Burkum said. “I know listening to other music I resonate with definitely makes me feel like the world is a little easier to get through.”
The Cactus Blossoms at Tulips Fort Worth. 8 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $20.
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.