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Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell

Stack Of Dreams – 2001 (Miles Of Music)

Reviewed by Jon Weisberger

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CDs by Caitlin Cary and Thad Cockrell

The spotlight shines pretty narrowly on Thad Cockrell's singing and songwriting, a likely legacy of its origin as a set of demos recorded in a single day at roots music veteran Chris Stamey's North Carolina studio. If you're looking for a fully fleshed-out sound or hot picking, you'd best look elsewhere; you won't find it here.

What you will find, instead, is evidence of some serious, if not yet wholly realized, songwriting skills. With the exception of Buck Owens' "Together Again," sung as a duet with Whiskeytown's Caitlin Cary, the nine songs here are all Cockrell's. Considering that he's only been at it for a few years, they're solid and solidly country, from the opening shuffle, "Pretending" to the closing gospel song, "He Set Me Free."

Cockrell's singing is equally promising. There are some awkward phrases and some moments where he sounds as though he's pushing the limits of his upper register, but his plaintive tenor is an effective vehicle for the heartbreak lyrics that characterize much of his writing. Despite the occasional weaknesses, this is an impressive debut that serves notice of a strong new addition to the alternative country scene.