By: Bill Clifford
Carbon Leaf has teetered on the verge of mainstream success since its 2004 breakthrough recording, Indian Summer. For some, that's a blessing, in that it is still an enjoyable experience to see and hear a band this good perform in small to mid-level theaters with an intimate vibe. That being said, the wonderful, harmonious and infectious music the band writes and records is just the sort that ought to be blaring from stereos and radios everywhere, rather than the indolent dribble we here on today's mainstream radio.
The band followed up Indian Summer with the somewhat darker Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat, which was recorded in Nashville. But now, on Nothing Rhymes With Woman (released May 19 on Vanguard), Carbon Leaf returns to its roots, recording back in its hometown of Richmond and reuniting with producer John Morand, who produced Indian Summer. Coming home suited the band well on this release.
That sentiment is clear on the riveting opener, "Indecision," where clear-voiced songwriter Barry Privett pines for the comforts of home amidst lush 12-string acoustic guitar and lilting ivories. "Another Man's Woman" is just the vindictive blues scorcher that the title suggests, backed by echoed, harmony vocals and melancholic banjo. "Cinnamindy" is a haunting rocker about a protagonist who is a tough, cowgirl ranch hand by day, while at night she reads the Bible and prays and cries for a good man to hold her tight, and melodic guitars ring like bells in the dreamscape that is "Lake of Silver Bells." The CD highlight, however, is the heartbreaking ballad "Mexico," the narrator passionately pleading for another chance with a real love he's lost, blinded by booze and ignorance. "Drops of Rain" is a reflective look back at the innocence of youth, while the Celtic tinged "Pink" touches on the more serious subject of a woman fighting breast cancer.
Musically, Nothing Rhymes With Woman is a vibrant and upbeat pop record, which disguises some of the more serious lyrical content. And though some of the songs reveal some harsh subjects, Privett once again proves to be an outstanding wordsmith and an endowed vocalist. This CD may not get heard on mainstream contemporary radio, but it deserves to be heard by discerning music fans nonetheless.
JamBase | Leafy
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