Artist: Caroline Aiken
Home: Atlanta, Georgia
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
The next tune, "Train Ride," (written by Caroline) is dark, slow
and sensually sung with more great dobro (and electric lap slide) and clever
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."