Artist Spotlight

Review: Carolinabound, “Smoking Gun”

No Comments 5 April 2015

Review: Carolinabound, “Smoking Gun”

“Smith most definitely has a way with words, and uses them to vividly paint moving pictures to complement the musical collaboration of his fellow players on Smoking Gun. There is a potency and honesty to these songs, and while they may have been borne from traditional country and folk, the voice that has emerged is distinct and modern.”

Artist: Carolinabound

EP: Smoking Gun

Genre: Country Folk

RIYL: Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt, Ryan Adams

Carolinabound Smoking Gun

Sometimes an artist’s name is right on the money. Having been a frequent traveler through the Carolinas, there is an immediate image conjured up when this moody, haunting version of country folk starts filling up the room. You can see and feel the influence of the Blue Ridge Mountains on Chris Smith, lead singer-songwriter and core creative force of Carolinabound. That misty-eyed, mysterious effect pervades the songs on Smoking Gun, the debut EP from this collection of musicians.

Smoking Gun features Smith on guitar and vocals, Jeremy Blake on bass, Leo Grassl of Motel Rodeo on pedal steel, and Halli Anderson of River Whyless on violin. This is definitely earnest country folk minus the heavy twang; which is what distinguishes this record from other country-influenced counterparts. The simplicity of the songwriting is refreshing, and it’s an easy listen, especially on a lazy weekend afternoon. Smith’s vocals are vulnerable, sweet and melancholic in their delivery of lyrics steeped in country and folk traditional topics of love, loss and life experiences. There is nothing groundbreaking in that, just the comfort of knowing this troubadouresque type of performer continues to work in the background while trends fade in and out.

“When I Was a Boy” is our introductory glimpse into the world that influences Smith, and he paints a full and vivid picture with his words. It’s an homage to a simpler time, and draws some powerful parallels to finding that simplicity in your current life. “Easy Train” follows, and this particular track caught my attention not only for the fantastic imagery it conjures, but also the ease with which this would fit onto a Ryan Adams record. There’s a gorgeous ghostly quality to it that stood out. “Joy” was another standout on this six-song EP showcasing one of the stronger vocal performances by Smith and some swoonworthy pedal steel to tie it all up with a bow. The title track closes the record with a delicate arrangement and even a bit of hopefulness among the emotional wreckage the song relays.

Smith most definitely has a way with words, and uses them to vividly paint moving pictures to complement the musical collaboration of his fellow players on Smoking Gun. There is a potency and honesty to these songs, and while they may have been borne from traditional country and folk, the voice that has emerged is distinct and modern. It’s a fine line to walk but Smith does so with an ease that makes listening to this record comforting and truly enjoyable. Smoking Gun is a deceptively complex collection of tunes that displays a gifted lyricist to his full potential.


Carolinabound website: http://sevenmoths.com/carolinabound/

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