Incoming: New Album from Carlene Carter

Carlene Carter CD

Nick Lowe’s ex-wife ays tribute to her Carter Family roots.

 Carter Girl is Carlene Carter’s first album of new recordings in years, since 2008’s Stronger, and it almost goes without saying that the alt-country pioneer has been largely absent from the music scene since the ‘90s, having released albums in 1990, 1993 and 1995 and then going silent for over a decade.

 It’s due April 8 by Rounder Records.  The album was produced by Don Was, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and is described as “a personal homage to her Carter Family roots and to the ethos that has been the foundation of much of America’s music for almost 90 years.”

 “The songs on the album cover three generations of Carter Family music,” Carter said, in a press release. In fact, she shares writing credit with A.P. Carter on “Lonesome Valley 2003,” an updating of the Carter Family patriarch’s “Lonesome Valley” that reflects the loss of Carlene’s mother, sister and stepfather eleven years ago.  The album’s first track, just out is “Little Black Train,” that was first recorded by The Carter Family in 1935. The album revisits both classic Carter Family repertoire as well as original songs that relate to Carlene’s connection with her musical and familial roots. Willie Nelson guests on “Troublesome Waters” and Kris Kristofferson is on “Black Jack David” while Vince Gill is heard harmonizing on “Lonesome Valley 2003.”  “Blackie’s Gunman” is a duet with Elizabeth Cook, whom Carlene calls her “adopted sister.” (Cook is on six of the album’s twelve tracks. The participation of Lorrie Carter Bennett, daughter of Anita Carter, as well as Joe Breen, Carlene’s husband, underscores the continuing Carter Family connective tissue that the album celebrates.

 Musicians on the Carter Girl sessions that took place last year in Los Angeles and Nashville include Jim Keltner, Rami Jaffee, Greg Leisz, Sam Bush, Mickey Rafael, Blake Mills as well as producer Don Was on bass. The guitar of the late ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement is heard on “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow” and there are vocal contributions from generations past — Carlene’s aunts Helen and Anita Carter as well as June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash on the chorus of “I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow.”

 “From the day I first touched a guitar or piano,” Carter added, “My mom said, ‘You have to carry on the legacy of the Carter Family music. It’s supposed to be passed on and passed around.'”


1. Little Black Train

(A.P. Carter)

2. Give Me The Roses

(A.P. Carter)

3. Me and The Wildwood Rose

(Carlene Carter)

4. Blackie’s Gunman (duet with Elizabeth Cook)

(A.P. Carter)

5. I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight

(A.P. Carter)

6. Poor Old Heartsick Me

(Helen Carter)

7. Troublesome Waters (duet with Willie Nelson)

(Maybelle Carter/Ezra Carter/Dixie Dean Hall)

8. Lonesome Valley 2003 (with special guest Vince Gill)

(Carlene Carter/A.P. Carter/Al Anderson)

9. Tall Lover Man

(June Carter Cash)

10. Gold Watch and Chain

(A.P. Carter)

11. Blackjack David (duet with Kris Kristofferson)

(A.P. Carter)

12. I Ain’ Gonna Work Tomorrow (featuring Helen Carter, Anita Carter, June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash)

(A.P. Carter)

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