Carrie Newcomer – A Great Wild Mercy
I’ve been buying Carrie Newcomer music since 1980. She’s been on notable labels but never a major. Shameful. With 19 solo LPs & having won numerous awards, played with several name artists & performed for charitable events — the Michigan-born artist had her song (“I Should Have Known Better”) covered by Nickel Creek.
Carrie’s songs have flavor & are potent & memorable. Her vocal is luminous & she never gets distracted from the genres she shines with. However, because she mines a different vein of music than mainstream artists her abundance of creativity & originality doesn’t qualify her as just another basic female singer-songwriter. This is where some commercial entertainment entities lose their focus. Success hasn’t alluded Ms. Newcomer — there’s a bigger audience out there waiting to discover her & they do, each day.
She could be as recognized as Emmylou Harris, Carole King, or Joni Mitchell. Therein lies the secret of her mystique. I think they call that “flying under the radar.” So long as she can make a living, I’m fine with that. She is one of the few artists consistently versatile, diversified & achingly beautiful. At times Carrie has a pristine vocal & others a somewhat subdued smoky proponent. All good.
With the 10 themes explored in her A Great Wild Mercy (Drops Oct. 13 – Available Light Records) produced by David Weber & Carrie (acoustic guitar/harmony) & recorded in Indiana it traverses the post-pandemic era. The same as other singers have ad nauseam. No, not quite. Carrie looks intelligently at what we have become & how the differences are either making a difference or causing a difference.
Newcomer writes with enlightening poetic poignant lyrics with clarity in her alto. It allows her repertoire to unfold like a colorful tapestry. However, nothing is overcooked. There’s a precise fabric to each composition on the level of the work by Joni Mitchell & even folk artist Ferron.
Carrie Newcomer’s vocals remain astutely sincere. Her sure-fingered acoustic guitar playing along with Brittany Haas’s mandolin on “Start With a Stone,” is therapeutic. “Path Through the Evening Woods,” unloosens like an old Appalachian traditional rural tune.
Carrie’s not a vocalist who depends on showboating, hitting stratospheric notes, or being whiney with angst & anxiety. Instead, she provides solace through her voice. A song like “A Book of Questions,” is a borderline lullaby, as if your mother’s voice talks to you in your conscience.
One of the year’s best albums.
Highlights – “A Great Wild Mercy,” “Start With a Stone,” “Path Through the Evening Woods,” “Potluck,” “Take More Time, Cover Less Ground,” “Sitting In the Dark,” “A Book of Questions” & “The Shape of a Perfect Arc.”
Musicians – Jim Brock (drums/percussion), Brittney Haas (violin/mandolin/banjo), Paul Kowert (bass), Jordan Tice (guitars/banjo/harmony), Gary Walters (piano/Wurlitzer/organ) & Siri Undlin (harmony).
Color image courtesy of Jim Krause & Carrie’s website. The 41-minute CD @ Amazon & AppleMusic + https://www.carrienewcomer.com/