Carrie Anne Carroll may or may not be quite the best vehicle for her own work musically, but damned if she isn't a brilliant lyricist within the NuCountry wave. I've rarely heard well-worn North 40 sentiments turned so subtly on their heads. Heck if I know how she does it, but this woman makes what should be overly familiar sound brand new. I think, though, that the promo lit writer nailed it: there's the same "honesty…[in] simple and sincere songs that pull on your heart strings" the same way Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, and Hank Williams did. It takes a unique poetess to frame the Everyman/woman experience in the completely unpretentious way she does, but Carroll has managed it in spades, and it's very affecting.
Part of the problem in the release, though, lies in the production, engineering, and mixing work by Joe Carroll (her husband, I'm guessing). The very first cut is a bit rough, sing-songy, and not nearly as well balanced as it should be, the refrains particularly flat, the whole affair more like a warm-up than a final cut, one that should've been re-done at least one more time, probably more than that. You Should Know, on the other hand, is very well executed, almost perfect, but the instruments in Parking Lot are just a wee bit rushed in an otherwise highly attractive and even midnight eerie song. The apparency is that Carroll was on a tight budget (who isn't nowadays in this friggin' economy?), and had to zip in and out of the studio, when significantly more time was needed.
Favorite cut? Parking Lot. Despite my criticism, it has the same sort of Hypnotized atmosphere that Fleetwood Mac issued when Bob Welch was writing for them, a REALLY enticing cut, and, in actuality, much in the disc is just inches away from dynamite. The difference, however, is absolutely crucial in materials potentially this good. Murder finds the band at its most dispersed, and that's supposed to be the case, but not in this fashion. A dissolute noir environment was sought, as it should be, but not like this. A very arty stab at cabaret, the mouth and ears drool to hear it correctly performed.but that doesn't come about. What follows, A Cowboy's Work is Never Done, zeroes in much more closely, kinda like Ennio Morricone meets Dolly Parton and Janis Ian.
It's screamingly obvious Carrie Ann Carroll should be big, and soon, but this isn't the vehicle. My hope would be that she'd pull the CD, re-organize, re-group, crowdfund the needed monies, and start all over with the exact same songs. It's been done before, not often, but it'd be a shame if this material were to be passed over because of the noted defects, a real damn shame.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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