The cover art of Easy Way, the latest album from Minneapolis folk duo the Cactus Blossoms, is a tad misleading. Its image finds brothers and bandmates Page Burkum and Jack Torrey walking in opposite directions, as if strangers passing each other on the street without a second thought. But despite each bringing their unique spin on the genre, the Cactus Blossoms are entirely in sync, using their trademark layered harmonies to craft a sophomore album (with a little help from Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys) that’s every bit as refreshing as it is intimate.
To listen to the Cactus Blossoms is to travel back to the past, as you are thrust into a timeless land that falls in lineage somewhere between the Everly Brothers and Tom Petty. Whether it’s the Roy Orbison-esque throwback “I’m Calling You” or the rambling slice of 1970s Americana “I Am the Road,” Burkum and Torrey wear their influences proudly on their sleeve, curating a fabled time capsule sure to win over folk fans across generations. No matter your entry point into their textured arrangements, it’s easy to slip into their warm, cozy sound and relive the pain and pleasure of youth. With sugarcoated, lightly twanged melodies like “Downtown”
— a stone’s throw away from a Flying Burrito Brothers track
— Easy Way goes down smooth, creating a breezy mood piece that feels at once deeply recognizable and wholly personal.
And while the album is at its most comfortable when it leans heavily on soft, savory moments — like the dreamy, sauntering ballad “Easy Way” and the mellow, late-summer trip down memory lane “Got a Lotta Love” — the Minnesota boys know when to pick up the tempo and crank up the volume. In intervals, the Cactus Blossoms get the blood flowing with hearty toe-tappers like “Please Don’t Call Me Crazy,” electric guitar-fueled dive bar number, and “Boomerang,” a bluesy, organ-heavy journey into the unknown. By the time we reach album’s standout “See It Through,” we’re in a pattering, whiskey-soaked trek down a desert highway.
Caught somewhere between The Byrds and Rubber Soul, the Cactus Blossoms have followed up 2016’s You’re Dreaming with a snug, atmospheric trip to a bygone era. As we move from the opening acoustic plucks of folk-pop road tune “Desperado” to the final notes of open-strummed, pensive fantasy “Blue As the Ocean,” Easy Way taps into inescapably human struggles, giving it a staunch relatability that effortlessly translates to lasting appeal. Delightfully innocent and pleasing to the senses, Burkum and Torrey’s latest continues to make vintage roots music feel fresh and engaging, if never truly original.