Colin Cutler – Tarwater
Colin is a Greensboro, North Carolina-based artist & an Army veteran who has transformed his life into soul-stirring work captured on his 9-cut Tarwater (Drops Oct 31 & Nov. 3-Independent) with an additional 2 radio edits of longer songs included. The showcase was produced by Colin (lead vocals/banjo/rhythm guitar/harmonica) & Benjy Johnson.
The set features songs that are literate & touch upon Americana, folk roots, some gospel, honky-tonk with splashes of country & blues-based roots-rock. All the ingredients for a lively showcase of varied genres.
Inspiration came from authors like Flannery O’Connor & Kurt Vonnegut. Cutler recreated some of those characterizations & themes in his songs – primarily home, self-exile, violent natures & religion peeled from the “Christ-haunted South.” Makes for interesting listening since that border on American Gothic – a theme recorded years ago by a great unheralded songwriter — the excellent 1972 David Ackles album “American Gothic.”
Cutler has a good vocal facility – warm vocals that have power & authority. The dark-hued fiddles, spirited guitar & ghostly background vocals add atmosphere to “Bad Man’s Easy.” Quite cool. What Cutler utilizes in his showcase is depth – the songs have an evocative feel & some are cathartic. They have their own individuality.
Case in point: “Mama, Don’t Know Where Heaven Is,” – I haven’t heard anything like this one in a long spell. The closest I can recall is Memphis singer-songwriter Don Nix who had that meticulous storytelling edge in many of his tunes.
Lots of originality in many of Cutler’s short stories – but what makes the tunes even more engaging are the splendid arrangements that dress each song in different threads. “Save Your Love & Drive,” is rockier with some energetic drive ala Johnny Bond via The Blasters/Fabulous Thunderbirds. Nice touch.
With “Parker’s Back,” Cutler is obviously taking a page from the John Prine songbook. Excellent storytelling & wonderful narrative. Sometimes this kind of music can get redundant. It starts to sound the same since there are just so many subjects a person can sing about.
So, John Mellencamp found his field, Bruce Springsteen’s embedded in his, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Lyle Lovett & John Prine established theirs & as for Colin Cutler – he’s in the right frame for his art. He has a distinctive voice; he has a pen full of ink & a head filled with stouthearted tales that need to still be told.
Highlights – “Bad Man’s Easy,” “Mama, Don’t Know Where Heaven Is,” “Save Your Love & Drive,” “Parker’s Back” & “Run To The River.”
Musicians – Colin (rhythm guitar/banjo/harmonica/lead vocals), Bob Worrells (lead electric guitar), Evan Campfield (electric & acoustic guitars), Emmanuel Rankin (drums), Dashawn Hickman (steel guitar/vocals), Christen Blanton Mack (fiddle/violin), Laura Jane Vincent, Wendy Hickman, Aaron Pants, Rebekah Todd & David Childers (vocals) & Ella Patrick (duet vocals).
Color image courtesy of Colin’s website. CD @ https://www.colincutlermusic.com/ + song samples @ Bandcamp @ https://colincutlermusic.bandcamp.com/album/tarwater
Enjoy our previous coverage here: Song Premiere: Colin Cutler “Mama, Don’t Know Where Heaven Is”