Carrie Rodriquez’s second solo release marks a radical departure from her Americana roots toward the bright lights and big-city sounds of modern pop music. Since her first record in ’02 with Chip Taylor (Let’s Leave This Town), where she had to be coaxed to sing backing vocals, Rodriguez has mutated from a virtuoso fiddler who sang occasionally into a singer/songwriter who sometimes takes a solo on fiddle.
In Taylor’s place, Malcolm Burn brings his own sensibilities as producer. The result is less predictable, with more emphasis on Rodriquez’s musical individuality than her links with traditional folk forms. Ten of the 11 tunes were written or co-written by Rodriguez, with the only non-original song penned by Burn. None could be mistaken for conventional. All use unusual chord changes, suspensions, and bridges that meander back to the head in unpredictable ways. Some, such as “Absence,” hint at older folk styles, with a backbone formed by a fiddle riff while the mood and texture evolve beyond tradition. Rodriquez’s new musical direction may not immediately win over fans. But after several listens it begins to stand on its own in a profound way.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s Dec. ’08 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.