Carrie Rodriguez, |
Seven Angels on a Bicycle
(Train Wreck/Back Porch, 2006)
Fiddler and vocalist Carrie Rodriguez is best known for her recordings with Chip Taylor. Though the cover of Seven Angels on a Bicycle bears her name alone, Taylor is here in all but voice, as co-producer with Rodriguez. He is, moreover, composer or co-composer of all but one of the songs (the co-writes are his and hers). Those who know what Taylor's latter-day -- which is to say post-"Angel of the Morning" and "Wild Thing" -- compositions sound like will know what to expect: melodic, moody, rooted modern music, its proximate inspiration the lyrical songs that mapped the late Townes Van Zandt's interior landscape.
For this project Rodriguez and Taylor assembled a group of A-list musicians, including the jazz-guitar giant Bill Frisell and the pedal, lap steel and Dobro master Greg Leisz. They create more richly textured sonic atmospherics than the sketchier country-folk arrangements of R/T's duo recordings. As always, Rodriguez's vocals are strong and impassioned, whether charged with joy or sadness or yearning or eros. Actually, you'd have to listen long and hard to come upon a young singer so assured, so fully in control of her material. Simply as someone who knows how to deliver a song, she's as good as anybody on the current Americana scene, right up there with Julie Miller, Lucinda Williams and Allison Moorer.
Though still recognizably a folk-accented record (a point stressed by the inclusion of Dirk Powell's marvelous rewrite of the Appalachian traditional "Waterbound," first recorded on his 2004 Rounder disc Time Again), Seven Angels manages to infuse rock, jazz and classic-pop elements into the mix with altogether organic ease.
The songwriting is of such uniform distinction that one picks particular favorites with difficulty. That's no doubt because the whole album feels like one big musical statement linked by common language and disposition. It's hard to believe that Rodriguez and Taylor, consummate pros, didn't intend it that way. In any event, Seven Angels is one heavenly bicycle ride.
by Jerome Clark