Cheryl Cawood

REVIEW: Cheryl Cawood “Bullet in the Cabin Wall”


Cheryl Cawood – Bullet In the Cabin Wall

Kentucky is the place where these 12 songs were nourished. It’s country-oriented mountain music with a touch of folk tradition. Working in coal mines, feuds with neighbors, making moonshine, birthin’ babies — all with a rustic history woven into the smoky quilt of Cheryl Cawood’s debut.

Vocalist Cheryl Cawood is not your mainstream sugar-coated pop-country confection singer. But more of a traditionalist in tone. Close at times to Emmylou Harris crossed with the backwoods aromatic tonalities of Iris DeMent & Gillian Welch. Not a voice meant to be beautiful but to sing songs with sincerity, authenticity & tradition as close to the soil & bark as possible.

Cheryl Cawood

“The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore,” a Jean Ritchie song is rich in that back porch woodsy tradition. It’s about how progress takes things away from communities. How the future doesn’t always provide or maintain a good solution, a prosperous livelihood & a dependable lifestyle.

“Makin’ Corn Liquor,” is drenched in Dolly Parton-Loretta Lynn country-folk enthusiasm. Parton & Lynn often take a mountain song of no consequence to city folk & turn it into a viable song that makes everyone a loveable hillbilly of sophistication. Cawood does this with ease.

Unlike other country songwriters, Ms. Cawood writes her originals about parents who deal with the addiction of loved ones, advocates for social change & explores mental illness & poverty. Put simply, she writes seriously as opposed to the majority of country sweet pop radio that preoccupies itself with red high heels, star-spangled boots, chewing tobacco & spitting in a bucket, drinking until you forget where you are. Mountain folk have concerns. Opioids are as plentiful as apples on the tree & catfish in the pond.

Her songs have excellent instrumentation low on showboating. “Coming Home,” (excellent fiddle/mandolin) maintains an Emmylou-Dolly spirit. The 49-minute CD Bullet In the Cabin Wall (Drops May 20–Bobbitt Records) includes the title song that tells the violent tale of control of the whiskey trade. If you tap your toe, beat time with your boots & ride a child on your knee with an appreciation of valley-deep, mountain-high Appalachian-type folk music this will bend yer ear favorably. The tales are rich in tradition, clever & seldom simplistic. “Deep Down In Your Bones,” is not an average mountain tune.


Produced by Jack Saunders (all guitars/upright bass/mandolin/mandola/banjo/bv) in Houston, TX. Players include Rick Richards (percussion), Eleanore Whitmore (fiddle) & Michael Bobbitt (piano). The front cover is a nice antique pencil rendering of the Cawood Homeplace by Uncle Bill Cawood (1949).

Color photo copyright Ray Redding. CD available @

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