Caroline Aiken ~ Unshaken
Date: Friday, November 21, 2003 @ 21:25:33 UTC

Artist: Caroline Aiken

CD: Unshaken

Home: Atlanta, Georgia

Style: folk/blues/rock

Quote: "Lightning. Thunder. Passion. A real command of language."

By Les Reynolds

A combination of lightning, soft thunder, gentle rain and passion could describe Caroline Aiken. It could also describe her latest CD, "Unshaken."

The veteran Georgia artist has 13 more tunes released to add to her already lengthy resume. Even the two previously released tunes ("Ground Zero" and "Inside Out") sound new in the hands of Caroline's skillful fiery fingerpicking and ferocious strumming. Her guitar emotes amazingly warm and rich tones to complement her soaring, bluesy and husky voice.

This CD is where the rough-and-tumble meets the sensual. Where rock meets roll and blues merges with folk. Rootsy. Earthy. Very, very Caroline.

The CD opens with the slow storytelling "Forty Thousand Headmen (Winwood/Capaldi), a dark and sweet sounding tune carried on the wings of Caroline's voice (sounding remarkably like Bonnie Raitt at times) and Steve Sadler's crisp resonator guitar.

Next comes Caroline showing us her versatility, driving the beat with her mandolin chops on "Susan's Eyes" as she's joined once again by Steve and some gorgeous, jaw-dropping dobro playing. Co-written with Jackie Lynn Gaston, this is a beautiful tune:

Susan sees the world in little pieces
And she shows us what we
...purple flowers, the way the sunshine
Sparkles on a
I see the world through Susan's eyes
Hanging on the wall
Then I realize
I've been looking without seeing it at all

She can freeze a melody
On one silent note
Safe for all eternity
As it leaves the singer's throat
Or capture an expression
That no one else has seen
Leaving it all up to us
To figure out just
What she means...

...I'd like to see her take her lens
Turn it to hear heart
So she can see how beautiful she shines
How she sparks
Susan's eyes...

The next tune, "Train Ride," (written by Caroline) is dark, slow and sensually sung with more great dobro (and electric lap slide) and clever lyrics:

Oh, what a strange way to meet
On a train ride bound for recovery

Got on the train, shared the same seat
I excused your elbows
You excused my feet
We laughed and cried
...learned to deal with what we don't expect

Sometimes when that ol' train slowed down
I thought it might be my time
But before I could get my things together
It was just someone gettin' on
Yeah, just someone singing along

...But to go on and on about this ol' train
Would be like living in the past
And from my house I can hear it whistle
As it rolls on down the tracks...

From the slow and sensuous to some real up-tempo excitement. Now come the lightning flashes on the appropriately titled "Running." This all-instrumental Caroline original showcases her flying fingers and her ability to tease -- stop, start, fast, slow, change the melody variation just enough to keep it interesting, then back to that trademark rapid-fire string wizardry -- and some of the smoothest chord changes you've ever heard.

Then, a couple of cuts later, comes something entirely different -- a toe-tappin,' finger-snappin' (the latter is actually incorporated here) up-tempo spoken word ditty about a beloved cook and her kitchen called "Mama Louise's H & H." And, as fast as she spits out the words, Caroline actually manages to sound kinda sensual here.

Near the end of the list comes the up-tempo previously-mentioned (and previously released) "Inside Out." Here, Caroline shows you all facets of her acoustic guitar skill and it's complemented wonderfully with some soft but mean-sounding electric slide guitar. Harry King spices it up later in the song with some stirring whirring keyboard playing.

Caroline is a true Goddess of Music. Lightning. Thunder. Passion. A real command of language. It's a safe bet you'll be totally taken with "Unshaken."

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