Recommended Tracks: “No Use Praying,” “Americana (Letting Her Go),” “Just Like Heaven”
Artists You Might Like: Chris Stapleton, Jamestown Revival, The Lumineers
Despite their stage name of Cash & Carter, Shaun Smith and Ross O’Reilly are not two legendary figures in country music – yet. Over the years, the duo have had separate career paths, Smith releasing massive hits under the moniker of Stealth and O’Reilly making waves as a producer, singer, and songwriter. After crossing paths and realizing how much of a shared passion they have for music, the two artists got together and started releasing singles. These singles flaunted their talents as musicians, their appreciation for country and Americana, and their enthusiasm for making something fresh. With great feedback from notable outlets like Noctis Magazine and Entertainment Focus, the hype for Cash & Carter’s music grew. Catering to this hype, the duo gives us their debut EP, No Use Praying, which features a collection of songs that Cash & Carter are “hugely proud of.”
The EP opens with the title track, which is an empowering anthem about taking control. Shaun’s soulful vocals are a perfect complement to the country rock production, his tone bringing out the resilient spirit of the track. Throughout, he emphasizes that waiting around “for someone to come and save” him is not the way to go through life because “Only you can make things go your way.” The bridge ties it all up, as we hear, “Ain’t no use in praying” and “Only you are saving you.” We are treated to another anthem-esque track with “All Of The Way.” The verses have a sincere country vibe, the richness and shakiness of the music adding a sense of comfort. The feel-good melodies take on a new life when we get to the choruses, opening up to reflect the delight of going “all of the way” through life with someone.
Elsewhere on the EP, we hear about complicated relationships. On “Americana (Letting Her Go),” Cash & Carter touch on the complexities of a close friend’s suicide. Accompanied by heavy downbeats and fast-paced guitar strums, Shaun explores the grief and tries to find closure. He sings, “I shiver inside / Gotta swallow my pride / Gotta let her go now / I’m letting her go,” surprised at how this friend is still on his mind years later. With “Ballad Of Talulah,” the focus is on finding love in all the wrong places. Details about being used are heard on this twinkling track, reflected in lines like, “‘Cause they all wanna save me right until they pay me / Then it’s home to their wives.” Still, the lilting beat shakes away the flustered lyrics, making it an innocent addition to the EP.
Cash & Carter close out the EP with a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” The original is a favorite of theirs, and they felt like it could use a Cash & Carter reimagining. For those who are not familiar with this classic The Cure track, it contains the sad pop sound that the band is known for, along with glitzy synth and mellow guitar. On Cash & Carter’s recreation, the guys give it a dark spin, trading in the buoyant melodies and whimsical vocals for heavy beats, steady percussion, and an eerie vocal performance from Shaun. It is a cool way to close out the project, paying homage to such an influential band while drawing attention to Cash & Carter’s ingenuity.
Overall, No Use Praying embodies the heart and wonder of country and Americana. It has those serious moments, those inspiring moments, and the moments that make you sit back and reflect on who you are and what you are after. Cash & Carter do not have all the answers yet, but they will make you believe in something bigger, something better. The duo mentioned that they are excited and beyond proud of these songs, as they should be. If they continue on like this, there is no doubt that they could achieve Johnny Cash and June Carter status.
You can listen to No Use Praying on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and SoundCloud.