Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Album Review: Old Fashion Gal by The Carper Family

Believe it or not, there was a time when Country artists didn't feel the need to open their live shows with a Guns 'n Roses cover. They didn't feel the need to try to be a rock star or a movie star or a reality TV star. They were comfortable to just be themselves and to let their music do the talking. The Carper Family is a nice reminder that there are still a few Country artists who care more about the music than the image.

Their first album, 2011's Back When received tons of critical praise and I'm happy to say they pick up right where they left off with this year's Old Fashion Gal. With beautiful three part harmonies and an abundance of fiddle and mandolin, The Carper Family continues to deliver vibrant Country music that sounds authentic, but not dated. "Box Car Blues" is a fun footstomper that rates with the best of the Dixie Chicks in their prime. "Bad Attitude" is a sassy Texas swing that packs as much attitude as any of today's "outlaws." With tongue in cheek, they sing, "When I pack a bag, I've gotta pack two: one for me and one for my bad attitude."

Of course there's also great stories of love, loss and lament like "Precious Jewel," "Foolish Ramblin' Man," "Dollar Bill," and "I've Tried;" all of which combine Emmylou Harris - depth lyrics with Pistol Annies harmonies. In "Dollar Bill" for example they lament, "I'm outside on the road so far from home wishin I could be there again. But your love disappeared, strangled by fear and a broken heart you couldn't mend. The Carpers even add a few slow burning jazz songs in "Gotta Have My Baby Back," and "Ooh Baby."

But for me the theme of the album (and perhaps the era) crystallizes in the song, "City Folks." Singing, "Honeysuckle smells just like sweet perfume, hound dogs lying over by the door, watermelon rind mama puts up in a jar - and city folks call us poor." Taking joy in life's simple pleasures, The Carper Family reminds us that we don't need big city advertisers or executives to tell us what's important. Family, good friends and good music are about all any of us really need to be truly happy. And these old fashion gals deliver all three!

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