18-track roundup of unsung songwriter

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Neal Casal – Leaving Traces: Songs 1994-2004

Inexplicably neglected in his native America, Neal Casal’s solo career has evolved in fits and starts, alongside side projects and touring with myriad artists. But from his 1995 debut, Fade Away Diamond Time, it was clear that Casal had the pen of a classicist Laurel Canyon songwriter, versed in the subtleties, textures and lyricism marking everyone from Van Morrison to Jackson Browne. Leaving Traces is a useful calling card that leans heavily on 1998’s Basement Dreams and 2000’s Anytime Tomorrow. Though hardcore fans will quibble over track selection, in the absence of an overdue reissue of his remarkable debut, this is a good introduction to an essential voice.