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Carrie Elkin

Call It My Garden – 2011 (Red House)

Reviewed by Donald Teplyske

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CDs by Carrie Elkin

Carrie Elkin released an outstanding album of contemporary folk music. Recorded in Sam Baker's Austin home, "Call It My Garden" begins with Elkin's light-hearted giggle, setting the scene for an album of introspective, relationship-based and ultimately hopeful folk-roots. A personal meditation absent of maudlin angst that could be unwieldy, the songs are rife with nostalgia, change, and opportunity, much realized but some regretful.

Reminiscent of a less aggressive Lynn Miles, Elkin crafted an album that is radio-friendly and deeply personal. Jesse Likes Birds blend elements of lullaby with boisterous kitchen-jam frenzy. More indicative of the album's pervasive tone is The Things We're Afraid Of; sung from a male perspective, Elkin inhabits her protagonist with honesty and intuition. It's a gorgeous performance.

Partner and fellow Red House artist Danny Schmidt guests as vocalist, as does the always effective Baker. Schmidt serves as co-producer with Colin Brooks, another formidable south Texas presence. While individual credits are not provided, one presumes many of the most interesting guitar sounds emanate from Brooks.

Dar Williams' Iowa is the album sole non-original, and Elkin interprets this understated song in typically impressive fashion.

Two songs visit violence: Shots Rang Out and Dear Sam; both are beautiful and disturbing in their own way. Elkin's performance of these difficult songs provides evidence not only of her current station, but of what may follow on subsequent recordings.