Bruce T. Carroll – First Bird to SingOn the 8-cut First Bird to Sing (Independent-Drops Sept 17), Bruce doesn’t go heavy-duty politically. He provides good melodies, clever lyrics, is always entertaining & treads lightly. He does things with good taste. Bruce has several poignant songs having personally gone through some hard times, he put his life in order & fortunately he’s an expressive artist.
I often begin to listen to music by randomly choosing tracks. I started Bruce T. Carroll’s with cut 7: “Don’t Take Love Lightly (Magagirl).” Bruce has a similar vocal tone, not style, as folk-rocker Steve Forbert (“Romeo’s Tune,” “Evergreen Boy”). The song itself will draw cringes from some listeners since the connection to Maga girl & someone who lies pathologically, is a dramatic stretch. Since the playful accusation can be applied as well to many individuals presently in office, it can be taken humorlessly.
This song by Bruce is sung & performed well. I usually dismiss political overtones in songs & just do my best to focus on the showcase, not so much the message. Artists forget when they sing certain songs with political leanings there’s an audience they alienate. Independents can’t afford this. They can sing something they feel strongly about but be wary of blowback. Many buyers may not agree with the content.
The unavoidable political tinge could be detrimental but if you have the sand listen to the music, the well-written lyrics, the fine singing & playing, Bruce is worth it. There aren’t many folk singers of consequence today. I didn’t always agree with Pete Seeger or Joan Baez, but there were times I liked them. They were viable artists who tried to make a difference.
Today, it’s not about making a difference, it’s about disrespect, disagreeing & doing it with anger. That’s not folk music. It’s a contradiction. Folk artists are supposed to be peaceful. Anti-war & all that.
“Nobody Knows,” is a strong statement but characterized by repetition. It can gnaw at the ears. It goes on too long. The Call’s “Let the Day Begin,” (in a similar vein) was absolutely just right. Helped along by the dramatic vocal of the late Michael Been. Bruce’s song is written in a Leonard Cohen type structure (“Everybody Knows”) with Steve Forbert’s vocal intonations. A shorter version would be a stronger one.
Bruce (vocals/acoustic guitar), Lee Falco (drums/vocal/percussion), Brandon Morrison (bass/vocal), Will Bryant (piano/organ/Glockenspiel/vocals/mandolin/accordion/Wurlitzer/Farfisa/Harmonium), Connor Kennedy (electric lead guitar), Sara Milonovich (violin), Jay Collins (tenor/ baritone sax/horn arrangements), Chris Pasin (trumpet), Carla Springer (BG Vocals). Gary Schreiner (Harmonica on “Dragonfly In a Jar”). On the J.J. Cale sounding swamp-bluesy “I Let Go,” is Andy Stack (2nd guitar), & Tommy Mandel (organ). Mandel adds accordion to (“Grandfather Walks”).
The 33-minute CD: Produced by Bruce, has a lyric insert in a handsome CD package.
B&W courtesy: Trespass Music. CD available @ Bandcamp + https://www.brucetcarroll.com/