The latest record from New Orleans by way of North Carolina-based singer-songwriter Caleb Caudle was released June 24, 2014 on This Is American Music. Yet another artist from the talent-rich stable Cory Flegel and company have managed to corral over at T.I.A.M., but that’s another story in and of itself.
Paint Another Layer on My Heart is a collection of ten songs about love and being on the road, longing for home and a special someone. Stylistically, if Jason Isbell and Whiskeytown-era Ryan Adams had an illegitimate love child, it would be Caleb. (Caudle has already shared the stage with at least one of them.) He has a voice as sweet as bourbon pecan pie but somehow still enough edge to cut you deep. The edginess is a direct correlation to his lyrics -- I challenge you not to find a verse or two you can’t internalize. At some points, it seems as if a song was written for you or your situation. There is no faking the emotion that transcends throughout this record. You have to live it, feel it, experience it. With close to 300 shows in 2013, in support of his stellar first album, 2012’s Tobacco Town, Caudle has done all three.
Paint Another Layer on My Heart was written while on the road -- a driving theme throughout the record, along with the emotions and feelings a travelling troubadour collects. The album opens with “How’d You Learn”, the chorus of which is your first introduction to the sultry harmony backing vocals of Lydia Loveless. They both compliment each other so well, I’d love to hear a duo album in the future. Claudle surrounds himself with a beautiful backing band for the album, including American Aquarium’s Whit Wright on pedal steel guitar.
“Trade All The Lights” is a beautifully penned ballad about missing New Orleans, albeit deeper down, someone there, wanting to share, “a crescent kiss in the creole state”; “I would trade every last light in New York City, to be there tonight with you in New Orleans”. “Missing Holidays” is another highlight: “I sing for forgiveness on a narrow road of faith.” It’s a song asking for redemption for eminent absence. I’m sure that being on the road is the hardest thing while trying to keep a healthy relationship and, as the record segues to “Miss You Like Crazy,” it’s evident Caudle’s way of expressing that is Paint Another Layer on My Heart.
“Another Night” has struck a chord with me and is, hands down, one of my favorite songs of 2014. It speaks to me on more than a few levels. The powerful lyrical content, coupled with the Greg Herndon’s Hammond B3 Organ and Whit’s pedal steel guitar fills, are just the perfect recipe for me. “I make up excuses, and I feel less useless, try not to scratch on the 8 / I dust off my boots and I walk away, another night to forget about today.” Too damn good…gives me chills just typing it.
Caudle is on the road in support of Paint Another Layer on My Heart right now, starting things off in Nashville, Tenn., heading North, and then back South. Check out his website for tour dates at the link below and make sure to pick up a copy of the new record. It’s a “must have,” and if you’ve never heard of Caleb Caudle, you’ll be appreciative of the introduction.
+Words: Scott Zuppardo+