The Cairo Gang: “Be What You Are”

Photo by Rachel Cassels

Emmett Kelly has spent a lot of his musical career backing up Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Beth Orton, and Angel Olsen, a trio of exacting singers with specific styles. You’d figure Kelly would want to let loose every once in awhile, but his work as the Cairo Gang is just as nuanced as his day job. What started out as a lo-fi folk project has morphed into a full-on psychedelic rock band. On Goes Missing, this new iteration of the Cairo Gang sounds like it was beamed in straight from 1966 L.A. when 12-string slingers like the Byrds and Love ruled the Sunset Strip. But throughout, Kelly adds subtle electronic flourishes and phrases that help you glimpse who he is in the here-and-now.

“Be What You Are” echoes not only with paisley signifiers but with the memory of those kinds of folk-rock classics–a copy of a copy of a copy, warped for a new age but golden nonetheless. And if the song’s title doesn’t already make it clear: what’s wrong with following your idols if that’s your truest expression? Download “Be What You Are” below.

–Art Levy

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