(This Is American Music)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Maybe you can go home again….
If this Caleb Caudle album sounds even more relaxed and laid back than usual, it’s probably because the recently clean and sober singer-songwriter moved from New Orleans back to his home state of North Carolina. While he was never a rocker, the laconic lope of these eleven songs follows from the opening “Gotta Be” with its floating pedal steel, soft sweeps of organ and a melody as sweet as the smell of the first spring flowers.
For better or worse, Caudle sticks to that blueprint for another ten tracks that shuffle along with a crisp, unhurried vibe sounding like he and his band are playing in your living room. Songs such as the title track reverberate with the culmination of love for both a partner and the South. The singer’s honeyed everyman voice captures the tranquil, flowing, near countrypolitan music and words that capture a bittersweet yearning for the subtle pleasures of home and old friends. You can hear it in the swapped guitar and pedal steel leads on “Broken Hallelujah” that urge the song along. It’s there in the lovely ballad “Steel & Stone,” a beautifully rendered expression of love and desire placed against the imagery of the South.
Caudle stays on low boil throughout but these tracks are infused with the kind of peaceful easy feelings that made the best Eagles songs so memorable. It’s impossible not to listen to Carolina Ghost all the way through and not smile somewhere along the line.
Some may nitpick there isn’t enough variety but each selection boasts a memorable melody and lyrics you’ll bask in and return to. Chalk that up to an album that feels pure, natural and unconcerned with radio play or the commercial considerations most major label acts seem intent on providing. It’s a disc to soak in, letting its humble pleasures wash over you gradually until you surrender and play it again.