Tuesday saw the release of the final two solo recordings made by late guitarist Neal Casal before he passed away in August 2019. The two songs—”Everything Is Moving” and “Green Moon”—date back to 2013 but were never finished due to the guitarist’s marathon touring schedule between Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and, later, Circles Around The Sun.
These two tracks come while work is still being done on the Highway Butterfly: The Songs of Neal Casal tribute album. The expansive homage to a man who touched countless lives through his music is expected to arrive next year and will feature an array of special guests including Phil Lesh, Warren Haynes, Billy Strings, Steve Earle, Shooter Jennings, Eric Krasno, and many more. The behind-the-scenes recording process for Highway Butterfly will also be captured by director Justin Kreutzmann for a documentary film.
The first song, “Everything Is Moving”, is a rollicking acoustic track that, in the wake of Casal’s passing, reads like an epitaph. Jeff Hill, who worked with Casal on the tracks and also helped finish them after his passing, noted in a press release that some of Neal’s lyrics may be “eerily prophetic of the tragedy to come.” However, while some of his lyrics do express the depressed state of a troubled musician, other stanzas abound with the wisdom of a life well-lived. Set to a backdrop of archival photos and videos from throughout his illustrious career, the audiovisual element shows we were lucky to have Neal as long as we did.
Casal began work on “Everything Is Moving” at The Stable at Studio G in Williamsburg, Brooklyn back in February 2013. The personnel on these initial sessions consisted of Casal on acoustic guitar and vocals, Jon Graboff (acoustic guitar), Jeff Hill (bass), and Joe Russo (drums). Casal’s colleagues revisited the track in July 2020 and cut additional parts with Graboff (pedal steel), John Ginty (piano, Hammond B-3 organ), plus Hill and Jena Kraus (harmony vocals).
A few years later, in the summer of 2016, Casal began to envision a new solo album of songs and began work on “Green Moon” at Castaway 7 Studios near his home in Ventura, CA, where he laid down the original lead and background vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, and piano. Hill and George Sluppick would revisit the track in October 2020 and finish it by adding bass and drum tracks respectively.
An acoustic odyssey, “Green Moon” showcases more of Casal’s instrumental prowess than “Everything Is Moving”. The song still finds more of the guitarist’s introspective lyricism, but he expresses himself more clearly—as always—through the guitar.
“Working on these songs has been truly cathartic for me as I continue to process the loss of my dear friend,” Hill said. “Neal writes in ‘Everything Is Moving,’ ‘I am just a shadow on the wall, you won’t even think of me at all.’ As much as Neal’s lyrics can be eerily prophetic of the tragedy to come, he was wrong. So many of us will be thinking of Neal for decades to come.”
The tracks will also be released as a 7-inch single on February 26th through a collaboration between the Neal Casal Music Foundation and Royal Potato Family, who issued his last solo album in 2012. All proceeds from the vinyl will go to benefit the foundation created in Neal’s name to provide instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York state schools.
Watch the video for “Everything Is Moving” and listen to “Green Moon” below, or on your preferred streaming platform. Pre-orders for the 7″ vinyl are now open here.
Neal Casal – “Everything Is Moving” (Official Video)
[Video: Neal Casal]
Neal Casal – “Green Moon”
[Video: Neal Casal]