Barton Carroll’s fourth solo effort, Together You and I, was released January 19th on Skybucket Records. The album is full of compelling lyrics and interesting melodies. It’s Americana, but rich and dark, like an espresso stout to the rest of the genre’s amber ale.
A North Carolina native (and former member of Crooked Fingers) who now lives in Seattle, Carroll’s songs are structured in the folk traditions he grew up with, but he trades in standard instrumentation for the west coast horn sound of Craig Flory, and the production of jazz bassist Matt Weiner. He also sings his first duets with Seattle singer Anna Lisa Notter.
Seattlest says (about his previous album):
His guitar work isn’t necessarily extraordinary, but it builds cascading walls of sound that wrap around you, creating a nice little room where the songs dance amid filtered light and images of longing. His stories aren’t afraid to back off and let the instruments go for a spell. His voice cracks now and then the way skin cracks on a well-worked pair of hands. Honest is the best word for it.
Barton Carroll is the kind of songwriter that gets taken for granted. In a modestly fragile tenor, he relates real stories instead of impressionistic poetry or woe-is-me folk confessions, full of acute observations and complex emotional developments. It’s literary in the sense that he has a strong grasp of character and voice, not in the sense that he favors big words or clever turns of phrase. Carroll may never be called innovative, but he can’t be called showy either, which places him in the school of troubadours like Freedy Johnston and John Hiatt, who have a similar folksy bent and a shared itch to try on new perspectives.
After giving Carroll’s new album a listen, I’m impressed with how patient he is as an artist. It seems like he’s coming from another time, and that’s a particularly nice feeling in today’s rush-to-discover-this-and-do-that world.
[MP3 Offering] “Monday Night” by Barton Carroll