Caroline Cotter – Gently As I Go
These songs are serious like a shot of whiskey (“Do You Love Me” – catchiest tune in the collection). The 11 original songs on Gently As I Go (Drops Aug. 18–Independent) were produced by Caroline (vocals/guitar) with Alec Spiegelman (clarinet/bass clarinet/synth/Rhodes/pump organ/Wurlitzer/alto flute).
It sounds quite good. Caroline’s soprano touches upon early Joni Mitchell & the songs have a lilting lucid appeal. She has a pensive voice. Ms. Cotter’s approach is more in a Kenny Rankin (“Silver Morning”) mode than James Taylor. There’s little vocal aggression. Lyrics are well-tailored to each number. She has strengths & plenty of ear appeal with songs like “The Year of the Wrecking Ball,” being superb.
Some have said she has a honeyed vocal. That can also mean sweet, syrupy. Some tunes need an additive depending on the topic. Like a sweet slice of melon becomes better with salty prosciutto. Dark chocolate with potato chips. That’s what’s needed. Her diversification needs to be more acute between each piece.
Sometimes tackling weighty subjects can be precarious. While Caroline Cotter does a fine job on her latest outing there is a feeling of too much salt in the cake mix sometimes. However, the set is fluent & disciplined and Ms. Cotter keeps it interesting. She’s a good singer. There’s no showboating & there is exceptional playing by her musicians.
Ms. Cotter’s showcase indeed has a richness to it, but the musicians need to let go even more. The songs deal with dense topics, transitions & saying goodbye. The music isn’t showcased as a downer. Caroline’s voice is imbued with slivers of Natalie Merchant & “Antonia” has musical color. A deeper dive into Joni Mitchell & Laura Nyro styles with a pinch of Judee Sill’s intonation (“The Kiss,” “Jesus Was a Cross-maker”) coupled with a middle-of-the-road easy listening veteran producer would benefit her. It did Sinatra.
Caroline Cotter is worth a listen.
Highlights – “The Year of the Wrecking Ball,” “Coming Your Way,” “Remind Me of You,” “Antonia,” “Gently As I Go” & “Do You Love Me.”
Musicians – Dave Cole & Sean Trischka (drums), Zoe Guigueno & Dandy McDowell (upright basses), Jefferson Hamer (electric guitar), Emily Mure, Neha Jiwrajka & Elise Leavey (harmonies).
An 8-page stitched lyric insert is included. B&W image courtesy of Brendan Bullock. The 32-minute CD @ Bandcamp + http://www.carolinecotter.com/