THE PENNY COLLECTOR
Sensational Songs from the Poetic Edge of the Folk Spectrum.
Oh dear; this album by one of my favourite singer-songwriters very nearly got overlooked; such is the organisation on my desk at RMHQ.
Thankfully I found it just in time to scream its delights from the rooftops prior to its release.
I think I’ve seen Carrie play live 4 or 5 times now; either alongside her husband Danny Schmidt or more usually with Sam Baker and each time I hear her I think “She is too good for this, I want to see and hear her sing on her own!”
Then; as if by magic here is her fourth (or sixth if you count her firs 2 self-releases) album and; well…..keep reading.
Opening track New Mexico is absolutely spellbinding from start to finish; with Carrie’s crystal clear voice as she pours her heart out, dealing with the death of her father. Don’t worry. This isn’t maudlin; it’s a beautiful loving tribute for and about a very interesting man; and one I now wished I’d met.
This is followed by Always on the Run; possibly but less obviously about her father again, but words that touched me quite deeply as I lost my eldest brother only a couple of weeks prior to first hearing this touching song.
As usual I’d listened to THE PENNY COLLECTOR 3 or 4 times before reeding the accompanying Press Release; only to find that these songs were written and collated in a year where Carrie not only lost her father but gave birth to her first child; a daughter, which makes a lot of sense as songs like Tilt-A -Whirl and Niagara do sound like a wordsmith looking back at and reassessing their life in the most articulate manner.
With that theory in mind the snappy My Brother Said becomes ever more ‘interesting’ if it’s to be taken literally. I won’t give anything way; apart from the aggressively played electric guitar and the timbre in her voice resurrected some memories from my own life and I guess many out there will give a rye smile when they hear it too.
Again it was only when I read the notes that I realised the almost otherworldly rendition of American Tune wasn’t Carrie’s own words but those of Paul Simon! If you are going to cover a song; at least change it around…..and Carrie alongside producer Neilson Hubbard have turned this one upside down and inside out to create a minor masterpiece.
This is a compelling set of songs and must be heard as a complete work; but two songs in particular affected me quite profoundly, both very very different reasons and from both ends of the spectrum in Carrie’s ‘story’.
And Then The Birds Came is another song about her father; and with my own brother’s death still raw it caught me quite by surprise. While specifically about Richard Elkin (1942-2015) the sentiment is general enough to be about any loved one who has left our lives; which is the hallmark of a great songwriter.
The other Live Wire is about a rebellious daughter who was ‘Daddy’s little girl’ but ‘ran away to the Carnival’ before returning. I neither know nor care if this is a true story; because it’s such a cool and absorbing tale that I visualise an accompanying video I’m going to direct. It’s in mono/sepia with shots of Carrie singing and strumming her guitar interspersing with the character drifter in and out of shot via dream sequences……just a thought, well; it’s my thoughts actually.
If you’ve not heard of Carrie Elkin before; think Nanci Griffith or Emmylou Harris with an extra spark and sparkle and you will be somewhere in the vicinity.
Coincidentally (as if!) Carrie will be touring the UK alongside her husband Danny Schmidt in May and June; hopefully Danny will have a sore throat the night they come to Newcastle so I can hear Carrie Elkin sing these and others in all her singular glory (only kidding Dan).
Released UK April 7th 2017