It isn't often that I start a review of an album by listening to another artist's album, but here I sit, Carleigh Nesbit's Flower To a Bee spinning in the player and the music covering me like a much welcome cooling mist at a Las Vegas baseball game on a hot, hot day. I love the album and, due to the pressures of having to listen to new music all the time, get little chance to lay back and take it all in as it should be, devoid of distraction. There is something soothing about Carleigh's approach to her music, a take-it-as-it-is sincerity which I have always found quite disarming. It fits her, this lack of attitude (or is lack of attitude a certain attitude in itself?), and I find myself lamenting the fact that so few who would love this album have found it.
Carl Anderson sings backup on three of the tracks and I use this information as an excuse to listen, for this is about Carl's new album Wolftown, or is supposed to be, but I find myself unable to not preface a review of the new album without a nod to Flower. It is a breath of fresh air. And it was the first time I heard Carl sing.
I could not help but hear the plaintive tone Carl brought to Carleigh's music, already plaintive enough. It is modern mountain music of a sort and two of the songs ("Turn On the Heat" and "Walkin' In My Sleep") could have turned barn dance stomp but for the light approach both Carleigh and Carl bring to the songs. Rather than blend, the voices seem to dance around each other and it fits the songs to a T. On the other track, "Your City Skies", the voices turn a contemplative verse into a mountain high--- not Rocky Mountain, but high enough. I could listen to it all day (and did, when I first reviewed the album--- read that review here).
Well, here I am wanting to listen to Wolftown all day as well. God knows I love writing about music, especially the deep indies, but I miss having the time I used to have to simply engulf myself in the music. To drown myself in it. Luckily, when a Wolftown comes along, I can justify doing it. Carl Anderson's music has latched on and just will not let go.
I must be tired. Even the upbeat tracks don't seem that upbeat and I'm not sure why. I hear 1945, as much of a rocker as there is on the album, and I find myself still under water and subdued, much like I feel when I hear Jackson Browne's Running On Empty or Van Morrison's Moondance. They don't make me want to dance, they make me want to listen. Carl Anderson, I'm listening.
I'm listening to the almost folk/country "Far Away From Here," which might well be just another country tune in anyone else's hands but turns introspective in yours. I'm listening to "Don't Stop Trying," its chorus a cry for both strength and mercy. I'm listening to the rockin' "Good, Good Man" which somehow rocks but doesn't. How do you do that, make a song less and more at the same time much like Tom Petty does on some of his better songs? But mostly I am listening to "Hold Me," a song which strikes a cord so deep in me that I almost bleed.
Wolftown is all about Carl Anderson, but that shows up in different ways. It showcases an enormous songwriting talent. It rides on Carl's perfect/imperfect voice (it is called phrasing, friends, and Carl has it down). It is production and arrangement and musicianship all brought together for one album. It doesn't happen that often.
It happened here, though. Well done, Carl. Pass that along to everyone who had a hand in Wolftown. While I can't not wait for your next album, I am certainly looking forward to it.