Highway Butterfly: The songs of Neal Casal – Various Artists

'Highway Butterfly' is a phenomenal 41-track tribute record to the much-missed Neal Casal, who was known for his stellar solo work and collaborations with other greats.

Highway Butterfly: The songs of Neal Casal

Various Artists

  • Americana
  • Rock

  1. Traveling After Dark - Aaron Lee Tasjan
  2. Need Shelter - Jamie Wyatt
  3. You Don't See Me Crying - Beechwood Sparks & GospelbeacH
  4. No One Above You - Marcus King w/Eric Krasno
  5. Feathers For Bakersfield - Fruit Bats
  6. All The Luck In The World - Billy Strings w/ Circles Around Sun
  7. Sweeten The Distance -Dori Freeman w/ Teddy Thompson
  8. Time down the wind - Hiss Golden Messenger
  9. Me and Queen Sylvia - Johnathan Rice
  10. Wisest Of The Wise - Mapache
  11. Freeway To The Canyon - Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band
  12. Feel No Pain - Leslie Mendelson
  13. Detroit Or Buffalo - Jonathan Wilson w/ Hannah Cohen
  14. Day In The Sun - Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks
  15. Bird With No Name - Jimmy Herring w/ Circles Around The Sun
  16. Maybe California - Shooter Jennings
  17. White Fence Round House - Vetiver
  18. December - Todd Sheaffer
  19. Grand Island - Courtney Jaye
  20. Superhighway - Oteil Burbridge, Nick Johnson, Steve Kimock
  21. Willow Jane - Britton Buchanan
  22. Too Much To Ask - Kenny Roby w/ Amy Helm
  23. Time and Trouble - Bob Weir, Jay Lane, Dave Schools
  24. Death Of A dream - J. Mascis
  25. The Cold And The Darkness- Tim Heidecker
  26. Free To Go - Warren Hayes
  27. So Far Astray - Rachel Reed
  28. Highway Butterfly - Steve Earle and the Dukes
  29. Angel And You're Mine - Victoria Reed
  30. Pray Me Home - Jason Crosby
  31. Lost Satellite - Lauren Barth
  32. The Losing End Again - Jesse Aycock
  33. These Days With You - Puss N Boots
  34. Cold Waves - Tim Bluhm w/ Kyle Field
  35. Best To Bonnie - Zephaniah Ohora w/ Hazeldine
  36. Let It All Begin - The Mattson 2
  37. You'll Miss It When It's Gone - Cass McCombs, Ross James
  38. Fell On Hard Times - Angie McKenna
  39. Raining Straight Down - Allman Betts Band
  40. Soul Gets Lost - Hazy Malaze feat. Jena Kraus
  41. I Will Weep No More - Robbi Robb

The sheer number and calibre of artists represented on this triple-record or 5 CD tribute is a reflection of the high esteem Neal Casal was held in the music community. He was a prolific artist, having completed 14 solo albums and being an integral part of many others including The Chris Robinson Band, Circles Around The Sun, Hazy Malaise, Ryan Adams and the Cardinals, Hard Working Americans, and several others.

Casal’s work was always singularly melodic, and never less than interesting. It’s little wonder that so many have come forward to pay tribute. Steve Earle and the Dukes, Norah Jones, Dori Freeman, Teddy Thompson, Johnathan Wilson, Hiss Golden Messenger, Leslie Mendelson, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Susan Tedeschi, and Derek Trucks are among some of the hugely talented and musically diverse cast adding significantly to the rich source material.

Proceeds from the sales of the album will go to the Neal Casal Music Foundation, which provides musical instruments and lessons to students in New Jersey and New York state schools where Casal was born and raised, and appropriately given the sad nature of his passing to mental health charities including MusiCares and Backline.

Given the quality of the artists involved, it’s always a hugely enjoyable and resounding affirmation of the standard of Neal’s writing that shines through. Neal Casal didn’t write a bad song, and each track presented here has its own distinctive merits. That said, some do stand out.

Steve Earle’s instantly recognisable rasp adds grit to the title track, while Dori Freeman’s delightful interpretation of ‘Sweeten The Distance’ – the title track of Casal’s last studio album – complete with Teddy Thompson on backing vocals is bang on the money.

Vetiver’s cover of ‘White Fence Round House’ has a lot riding on it, as it is one of Neal’s most acclaimed and requested songs. Leslie Mendelson is an artist that, much to my shame, I have only recently discovered and she delivers a beautiful version of ‘Feel No Pain’.

Given that so much of Neal’s career was spent in collaboration with other artists, it’s nice to see that ethos reflected in the album, with a number of gifted individuals aligning their considerable talents to produce joint tributes.

Despite the extent of his work, and the undoubted quality of it, there is a general consensus that Neal never really got the recognition or public attention that his artistry truly deserved. Hopefully, this album will go some way to helping redress that huge oversight.

With 41 cuts – both well known and some deeper into Casal’s catalogue – this is a hugely impressive tribute, and no less than the highly talented and much-missed star deserves. Hopefully, those will who buy it, will have their interest in the superlative music on display here piqued and they will seek out the originals.

To do so is highly recommended.