It’s not often I get to hear a record better than half a year’s time before its official release. I took it in with the artist himself, enjoyed it on a visit to Big Pink, and then capping off our glorious man day with Merle Haggard in Long Island at a snazzy hockey rink, true story. I reluctantly have not listened since that summer evening so I could write something on it now.
I loved the record instantly hearing it late night in my kitchen after anAsbury Park show. I was taken back to the golden country of the 90s when I was attending Chattahoochee High School in Alpharetta, GA. Care free, melodious, country music, by real musicians, not overly obsessed with domestic beer shout outs and the borderline foolish mockery of the art that pop country stations have machined to be the norm. I’m taken back to crafty songwriting the likes of Strait and Randy Travis. Where even the spaces between the notes are honed, that’s the angle and visionCaleb Caudle had with Carolina Ghost. Writing and arranging in that vein from honky tonk sad songs to his soundtrack of sobriety “Borrowed Smiles”, to the snappy, infectious toe-tapper “Broken Hallelujah” – hell of a country record, nearly perfect from first chord to final snare in all its sweet tobacco leaf glory.
Written, probably not un-coincidentally, at the infancy of his sobriety, it’s basically a rebirth of sorts through music. A man finding himself and righting the ship, a man well-travelled, who’s worked harder than most at this songwriting thing with an undying fire that’s infectious in both song and personality. Carolina Ghost is the soundtrack to just that, an aquarium view into a man bettering himself and those around him, wondering if this music thing is really his thing, a longing for home rather than the road. All the while writing one of the classiest country records I’ve ever lent an ear to. A crowdfunding campaign got things started and Atlanta’s This Is American Music will ultimately be putting it’s stamp on the record slated for a 2/26 release. A fit I’m glad worked out for both parties, TIAM got a gem on this one; Caudle, likewise.
There’s not a sour note to report on Carolina Ghost. Recorded masterfully at the Fidelitorium in Caudle’s home state of North Carolina it’s plain to see how each musician and instrument was painstakingly selected by Caudle to essentially have the songs in his brain match the songs on the record. The dual tracked pedal steel fills by Brett Resnick are a prime example of said execution. They’re shapeshifters and ostensibly nail home the throwback 90s country vibe. Satin handed key work and real country songs saddled in a solid backbeat and dusty dobro, like personal favorite “White Doves Wing”. A sound to satisfy you and your buddies as you bro-down, your Mom when you take her out to dinner, and your girlfriend on the way home from date night in a rusty ’98 Ford F-150 Off Road. Hands down one of the best records you’ll hear in Roots, Americana, Country, and Pop in 2016. Well done, this IS the real deal, This Is American Music. ( No Depression :: 1/22/16 )