Adam Carroll, a singer/songwriter from – you guessed it – Texas, views life at a slant and weaves vivid stories out of ordinary commonplace events, fleshing them out with real and imagined details. All but one of these songs can be found on his two earlier releases “Lookin’ Out the Screen Door” and “South of Town.”
Like his previous albums, the live album (Downhole Records) has a stripped down sound –downhome vocals and a guitar accented with some plaintive harmonica action and a little bit of Jew’s harp. Carroll has an eye for the whimsical and his understated sense of humor is inserted into each song. His stories are full of hillbillies and city slickers, waitresses and race car drivers, snow cone men, whiskey throats, and trailer parks.
“Smoky Mountain Taxi” is one such tale. On the surface, it tells the story of a two hour cab ride through the mountains of North Carolina but through clever turns of phrase and bits of descriptions, we can visualize the cab driver and the life the narrator supposes she leads. He even includes a description of what he guesses her husband must be like, complete with an extrapolated vision of the husband “in some lonely truck stop, hittin’ on a waitress with a good set of teeth.”
“Blondie,” an ode to the famous cartoon couple, makes them more real than they’ve ever seemed in the comic strip. Although the song is a tongue-in-cheek love song to Blondie (in the introduction, he confesses to secret passion for her), it has a lot to say about making the most of what you have. He urges Dagwood to inject a little bit of romance into an otherwise stagnant marriage.
“Hey Blondie! Hey, you’re looking pretty good for a girl who’s 82.
Hey Blondie! Out of all them high society women, he chose you.
And Dagwood, get off of the couch and don’t you fall asleep so soon.
You gotta take her up on the roof and take a look at the moon.”
Who can’t relate to that?
“Karaoke Cowboy” describes some folks who gather at the Ramada on Tuesday night for karaoke night – when the Wild Turkey’s free. Enough said.
And the song “Legs,” well, without going into explicit detail, let’s just say that Carroll paints a graphic picture of temptation at a photo shoot. Whoa shit. As Carroll says, “it’s kinky, of that I have no doubt.”
“Silver Lakeside” presents the stream of adolescent memories of a man searching for himself by re-visiting his childhood places and first love:
“I had a dirty kid mind,
That’s how I got through.
I could never love a stripper
Like the way I loved you.”
Nothing says romance quite like that.
The melodies of all these songs are pleasant and catchy but, if you ask me, Adam Carroll is all about the lyrics. And the stories they tell.
Carroll has a new release from Blue Corn Music, “Far Away Blues,” which I haven’t yet heard but, judging from his previous work, it will be worth checking out.