Under Review

Catfish Haven

Tell Me (Secretly Canadian)

Review By Quinn Omori

It’s fitting that “one more time” are the first words on Tell Me, as the album finds Catfish Haven treading down the same path they set out on with their rather stellar debut EP, Please Come Back. The band—who took their name from the trailer park where lead singer George Hunter spent his formative years—comes off like a stripped-back E Street Band, with their bar-rock shuffle mostly restrained to acoustic guitar, bass, and drums. Rather than emulating the Boss’ gravel-throated delivery, though, Hunter’s voice drips with pure soul. And therein lies the band’s strength: nobody told George that white boys in RVs can’t be Sam Cooke or Otis Redding.
The sparse instrumentation—only occasionally beefed up with keys and horns—is never bad and often wonderful (as with the Motown bounce of the title track), but the disc does suffer from too many sound alike numbers. On the other hand, even on the more languid tracks, the vocals are strong enough to keep things above water. While still thoroughly enjoyable, Tell Me finds Catfish Haven sticking just a little too closely to the same formula. Yes, the record is a collection of mostly great songs. When taken as a whole, however, Tell Me just doesn’t have enough variety to keep things interesting over the duration of its running time.