Melissa Carper - Daddy's Country Gold
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Daddy's Country Gold (Self-released, 2021)

Melissa Carper

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

Singer/songwriter and upright bassist Melissa Carper is the genuine article. Her style evokes greats like Kitty Wells, Billie Holiday and Loretta Lynn, as heard in the dozen tunes on "Daddy's Country Gold." The "daddy" is not her father, but in a way the title owes to him too. As a child, Carper acquired the nickname "Daddy" from her bandmates for always being in control of the music. After a spending time in her family's country band, Carper attended the University of Nebraska on a music scholarship, going on to listen to every Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole album she could find. Around this time, Carper's father gifted her a full collection of Jimmie Rodgers' recordings, which helped her develop her own style.

If you've heard her singles "I Almost Forgot About You" and "Makin' Memories," you are likely struck by her classic sound that meshes country, western swing and jazz. Carper recruited some elite Nashville players such as fellow bassist Dennis Crouch (The Time Jumpers) Chris Scruggs (guitar, steel guitar), Jeff Taylor (piano, organ, accordion), Matty Meyer (drums, percussion), Billy Contreras (fiddle), with guest appearances from Brennen Leigh, Sierra Ferrell and pedal steel master Lloyd Green.

"Back When" and "Old Fashioned Gal" draw on nostalgia while "Still My Love" brings in comforting harmonies soaring above Taylor's dancehall piano. Carper isn't all about vintage or serious songs either, surprising with the playful "Would You Like To Get Some Goats." She comes across authentically on the autobiographical "My Old Chevy Van" and "Arkansas Hills" singing about her home state. Scruggs' pedal steel and Carper's vocal on "It's Better If You Never Know" make for a would be classic country hit while "I'm Musing You" could be straight from vaudeville. She saves perhaps her best for the closer, "The Stars Are Aligned," crooning heartfelt feelings.

Carper has a timeless, endearing sound, soaking in her classic influences without pretension.

CDs by Melissa Carper

Daddy's Country Gold, 2021

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