Carrie Rodriguez "Love and Circumstance" (Ninth Street Opus, 2010)
Rodriguez....with her roots showing
Nobody could accuse Carrie Rodriguez of being work-shy. Having released 8 albums of her own material in as many years, her newest venture ‘Love and Circumstance’ is a collection of the proverbial back-to-my-roots cover versions, giving the listener a peek into Rodriguez’s personal musical box of inspirations.
Being rooted in soft-focussed country-edged balladry, there are a number of the usual suspect’s work on show. Townes Van Zandt, Hank Williams, Lucinda Williams and Merle Haggard all get a look in, but also Gillian Welch, M. Ward, Little Village, Richard Thompson and her own father, the celebrated David Rodriguez, on ‘When I Heard Gypsy Davey Sing’. Rodriguez has an immensely likeable, soft and gentle voice in which she interprets this unhurried collection of songs which she seems to settle into a touch too comfortably. The cozy, warm sound of the familiar and safe, rather than sounding infused with the fires of inspiration.
The noteworthy guitar work from Hans Holzen throughout the album is often atmospheric and the right side of dexterous, particularly on Lucinda Williams’ ‘Steal Your Love’ where Rodriguez sounds briefly impassioned. Richard Thompson’s ‘Waltzing’s For Dreamers’ is a drowsy melodic treat. A delicate beautiful song, with subtle drifts of slide guitar crying in the background behind Rodriguez’s lamenting croon. Elsewhere Van Zandt’s ‘Rex’s Blues’ is gently rhythmic and evocative, despite not being a particularly eventful song choice. It is this that is sometimes ‘Love and Circumstance’s undoing, in that the selections are not always as sharp or remarkable as one may hope. Gillian Welch’s ‘I Made A Lover’s Prayer’ (which itself is hardly even close to the premier league of Welch’s material) rocks un-dramatically, while elsewhere Rodriguez’s soporific vocals render Hank Williams’ ‘I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry’ only mildly fed up, rather than imminently tearful, which then surfs closer to Norah Jones territory.
‘Love and Circumstance’ really contains no surprises in its selections or execution. Rodriguez has natural country and folk roots that are refined into a very palatable, and commercial country-rock by-product rather than presenting these songs in any startling new light. A pleasant enough diversion, now back to the day job....
Date review added: Sunday, September 26, 2010
Reviewer: Ian Fildes
Related web link: Carrie Rodriguez's website