Caroline Herring"s Camilla a Gutsy and Marvelous Release

Signature Sounds 2050
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Caroline Herring has come a long way since the Austin Music Awards proclaimed her the best new artist back in 2002. In 2012, she made the list of the top 50 Texas singers of all time! For those who don’t know, she sings with a clear voice and a vibrato quaver that makes her the Joan Baez of country music. So why isn’t this woman a major star? The answer may lie with her gutsy determination to take on the big issues that modern country music buried under a mound of nostrums and slick production. Camilla is largely a theme album, with many of its songs touching upon the third rail of Southern society: the civil rights struggle. The opening track is catchy and energetic, made all the more so by Fats Kaplin’s stellar fiddle and peddle steel contributions, but the song’s content packs a bigger wallop. It’s about one black woman’s determination to stand up to Georgian injustice no matter the cost. She returns to such themes on “White Dress,” and again on “Maiden Voyage,” a song that takes the piss out of redneck patriotism รก la Woody Guthrie.

Need more evidence that Ms. Heering takes chances? How about an a cappella song based on a Eudora Welty short story? Of course, it helps if you turn it into a harmony with Mary Chapin Carpenter and Aoife O’Donovan! Herring enjoys changing moods. “Fireflies,” a plea to let old “traditions burn down” has a bluegrass/stomp feel, “Flee is a Bird” is plucked from the 1840s, and “Joy Never Ends” an anthem-like happy song vocally backed by Kathryn Roberts. With Herring, you’ve always got to listen to the lyrics. “When she sings “Bye baby, baby bye” on “Black Mountain Lullaby, it’s the environment she mourns and the baby’s future she fears. Smart stuff, amazing voice, superb backup, and considered production. Give this a listen; if you’re not already a Caroline Herring fan, you will be.  


Bernie said...

Caroline Herring is a dear, old friend of mine. I had the privilege of playing with her* in our Oxford, MS days before people knew what a genius she is...heck, before I even knew the extent of it. Yes, why is she not a major star? Beats us. She will be, when the world figures it out. Or maybe not. Some people don't know that Leonard Cohen is a major star. Or Bruce Cockburn. But she's in their league. So maybe it'll just be the smart people who'll think of her as a major star. I reckon she won't mind.

*I am not worthy to change her strings, really, or tote her gig bag. But we had us some fun, pickin' and grinnin', back then. It's a joy to watch her success.

Bernie said...

Also...who are you folks? Who wrote this? It's one of the best reviews I've read--and I've perused quite a few. Good on ya.

Anonymous said...

Bernie: Review was from me--Rob Weir in real life. I write for a bunch of publications but I use a nom de plume on the Web b/c, well, it's loaded with some whack jobs!