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Carrie Elkin
Call It My Garden

Review By Steven Stone

 

  How many versions of the song "If That Mocking Bird Don't Sing" have you heard? I've listened to more than I can count on all my digits. So when I heard Carrie Elkin veer into "Mocking Bird" during the chorus of "Jessie Likes Birds" I wondered where she was going to go with it. What followed was a virtual tutorial on how to build a song around an older song to create a new one. This combining of old and new populates much of Elkin's musical landscape.

Elkin lives in Austin Texas, where she's part of the active folk and roots music scene. Co-produced by The Band of Heathens' Colin Brooks and Singer-songwriter Danny Schmidt, Call It My Garden is Elkin's second solo CD. Her first CD, The Jeopardy of Circumstance, was released in 2007. It was also produced by Colin Brooks.

Usually singer/songwriter albums fall into one of two categories – those that highlight the songs and those that feature the singer. Occasionally you find an album such as Call It My Garden that does both. Elkin's voice is direct and guileless, with little in the way of fancy bits. But Elkins displays a breadth of emotion and nuance that eludes many with more flamboyant pipes. Her country-influenced vocals avoid the cornball clichés while retaining an intimate and natural quality.

Elkin's songs aren't musically complex, yet her melodies never fail to deliver a few surprises. On "Iowa" she builds a delicate structure that demonstrates how a simple arrangement can let a song bloom. Her tune "Berlin" begins with just her lead vocals and Trevor Smith's minimalist acoustic guitar. By the end of the song she's built it up to a wall of sound.

Folk music used to be a limiting musical category, but artists such as Carrie Elkin show that even this well-trodden musical road has plenty of secret paths waiting to be explored.

 

 

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