BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Barton Carroll first stepped into the spotlight as an accompanist with various cutting-edge combos like Crooked Fingers, Azure Ray and Dolorean. Yet on his new solo album – his third to date –Carroll comes across more like a weathered traditional troubadour than a musician with boundary-breaking ambitions. With a rugged vocal and a stirring set of narratives, he bears a musical kinship to the likes of Tom Paxton, Tom Rush, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey, pundits and purists of the populist variety.
While Carroll never goes so far as to strike up a folk favorite like “If I Had a Hammer” or “Blowing in the Wind,” the songs that make up Avery County, I’m Bound to You clearly sound like they’re cut from the same cloth. Autobiographically inspired, and based on memories of the North Carolina region where he was raised, songs like “Beech Mountain Waltz” and “Mama’s Making Something on the Loom” sound like actual back porch hand-me-downs, replete with fiddles, banjos and earnest conviction. “I’ve been hiding in the branches and thorns just to get a picture of my love,” Carroll croons on “What a Picture Is,” sounding both quaint and creepy all at the same time.
Not surprisingly then, Avery County, I’m Bound to You makes for a hearty set of songs, each flush with rousing intent and an old time sensibility. Toss a log on the campfire and be prepared to sing along.
DOWNLOAD: “Beech Mountain Waltz,” “Mama’s Making Something on the Loom”