After a spell of uncertainty following the release of Soft Cat’s promising debut LP in 2010, it was unclear whether principle songwriter Neil Sanzgiri would continue the project at all. Slowly returning to his craft while immersing himself in the Baltimore music community, he began to compile the material and players for it’s follow-up, Lost No Labor, a captivating collection of baroque-pop serving as a glowing introduction to Sanzgiri’s knack for building patient, pastoral orchestrations rich with hope. Despite managing a constant rotation of collaborators, each Soft Cat release and performance saw Sanzgiri shedding nervous energy, simultaneously becoming an unwavering songwriter capable of weathering any misfortune set to blow his way. This grit would become of note, as mere days after the release a fire would ravage the artist-run gallery space where Sanzgiri along with other Soft Cat members lived.
Rather than succumbing to the events, Soft Cat emerged galvanized capturing the spirit of grief and loss into the deeply moving, spiritual album that is All Energy Will Rise. On his first proper studio effort recorded with producer Craig Bowen, these songs are nothing if not brave. “Somebody,” a truly heart-wrenching number relies on a fairly simply arrangement allowing Sanzgiri’s lyricism to shine. Delivering a far more mature vocal delivery than on previous efforts. Recorded inside of a historic cathedral in downtown Baltimore, the natural room captures the richness of each player, allowing the arrangements to flourish with purpose rather than remain trapped inside a bedroom studio. On “Diana”, possibly the most fully realized Soft Cat track to date, new sounds are planted. A large collaboration spanning six months and four different states, the track culminates in a moment of unbridled jazz-folk that grooves hard, bringing to mind the work of contemporary Ryley Walker. “A Disturbance on the Surface of A Body of Water”, welcomes the first appearance of a primarily distorted-guitar, a risk that works surprisingly well in contrast to the plucked, nylon-string Sanzgiri tends to favor. Though most of these songs speak to the tribulations of everyday existence, this is Soft Cat’s magnum opus. words / j silverstein