Various Artists – Highway Prayer (A Tribute To Adam Carroll)


Various Artists
Highway Prayer (A Tribute To Adam Carroll)
Eight 30 Records

A Splendid Slice of Small-town Americana All From the Pen Of One Man.

Adam Carroll is a name hardly known outside of his native Texas but regularly turns up in the small print on albums by artists that I love and admire; and the same singers always go out of the way to name check him in concert.
Here a number of ‘household names’ in the world of Roots/Americana (or my household anyways!) have got together to pay tribute to a Master Craftsman; in the only way they know how.
The album opens with Rocking Magpie favourite James McMurtry giving his best Johnny Cash impression on a wonderful song called Screen Door. Written from the POV of a guy working in the kitchen of a BBQ the ‘devil is in the detail’ on this song of unrequited love for a waitress.
The way McMurtry delivers “You smiling through the screen door/is worth 1000 goodbyes/I’m looking out the screen door/where your face comes in the light” will pull on even the tightest of heart strings, and is testimony to Carroll’s songwriting skills.
Next out of the trap is another favourite songwriter around these parts, Hayes Carll with Girl With The Dirty Hair. There’s a hauntingly tragic beauty to this story of two misfits in a rough-ass town who find each other and then one of my all time favourite songwriters, Slaid Cleaves pours his heart and soul into South of Town.
Even if these were the only three names paying tribute, that I’d recognised I would have been impressed; but we also get Band of Heathens doing what they do best with Oklahoma Gipsy Shuffle and later the vastly underrated Terri Hendrix shows Tim Carroll’s songs are just as Country as Country can be with her footstompin’ rendition of Red Bandanna Blues and then Noel McKay and Brennen Leigh regale us with a song that was a highlight of their Show Stealing performance at SummerTyne 2016……Karaoke Cowboy.
As with all Various Artist albums there are a number of acts I wasn’t familiar with; but Mando Saenz singing Home Again and Danny Barnes with Smoky Mountain Taxi both had me checking out their own websites as their voices both intrigued me. The songs are pretty damn fine too; by the way.
Choosing a favourite song has been especially difficult as there have been pleasant surprises around every corner. Should I go with one of those four opening tracks from artists I already know and love, or somebody new to me? I’ve gone for the latter with a tie between the heart crushing late night intimacy of Hi-Fi Love by Jamie Lin Wilson and the Rootsy Twang of Black Flag Blues by Tim Easton and Aaron Lee Tasjan.
Carroll does get to make an appearance on the final track My Only Good Shirt, yet another intricately ‘simple’ song but from the lips of the man who wrote it and sung the way it was originally intended…..from the heart.
Tim Carroll’s songs and stories are staggeringly well written, personal and full of day to day minutiae with the occasional tongue-in-cheek line that will make do a sideways smile and will keep you coming back like the finest ‘page turning novels’ ……but why have I never heard him before?

RELEASED October 28th 2016


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