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Caroline Herring

TWILIGHT (Blue Corn Music) • Caroline Herring

This doesn't sound at all like a debut record. Caroline was voted Best New Artist last year in the Austin American-Statesman 2001 AMP Awards. And in their Top 20 albums of the year, Twilight was #5.

I was too busy to go, but I drove down to Tower Records at 5 PM yesterday to have a look at and a listen to this new artist I'd heard about. An uncommonly good looking person with a sincere and down home demeanor, she's got the perfect voice for what she's doing. The music is bluegrass and folk, in that order. The tunes are deeply written, essentially southern, a study in unaffected expression of a life far below the Mason Dixon line. It's one of those rare records that made me wish I'd grown up down South.

Caroline's voice is a pure instrument. It's an opulent alto, like a viola playing fiddle tunes. The puzzling absence of self consciousness has a magnetic effect on the listener, and pulls you right into the beautiful lyrics that aren't saying I want to talk about me:

She wears her cross like a tattoo
she needs identity just like you
life has treated her just as hard
playing house in her own backyard
don't go looking for one to fall
you know she fell a long time ago
watch her rising, rising high
at the ringside rodeo

I love "Devil Made a Mess" also:

No one will know
the words you said, no one
leave it to me
to disappear, to move along
nothing from the past
will ever haunt me like you do
oh sweet baby
the devil made a mess out of you

John and Jim Inmon of Blue Corn Records made a memorable disc here at their Hill on the Moon Studio in Austin. It's no surprise that a circle of luminous friends appear on the recording. Peter Rowan on guitar and vocal, Bryn and Billy Bright on bass and mandolin and mandola, Richard Bowden and Eamon McLoughlin on fiddle, and others. It's a disc of rare beauty. Caroline Herring's star is rising, quickly.  • FG

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