I think that a lot of music is hard to review. I know, I’ve been doing to for years, but that hasn’t made it any easier. Writing a review isn’t like talking a friend about about an album or chatting with your buddy who just dropped his new record on you. There’s something permanent about putting words on the web because the internet never forgets. I guess for some of us that doesn’t matter and there was a time where it didn’t matter to me and I’m striving to get back to that place, a place where I can talk about how music makes me feel, where it takes me, and really what it means to me. For me music never has to be perfect, vocals never have to be on key, but it does have to make me feel and the more it makes me feel the better I like it. So when Caleb dropped Carolina Ghost on me and we talked about it a little later, I already knew what I was going to say here.
The first thing I realized about Carolina Ghost was that it’s a record my dad and I could have listened to together and both enjoyed a lot. I realized this before he passed but I never did sit down and play it for him and I really wish I had. It was a rare thing when our music tastes crossed paths and this was just about the perfect album for it. So while I didn’t play it for him it brings him to mind and makes me smile. Of course I don’t think the rest of you will have that sort of emotional reaction but it’s still pretty damn cool to me and I absolutely had to share it with you. There was really no way I could keep that to myself.
Carolina Ghost isn’t an imperfect album that draws emotion out you through it’s flaws. In fact it may possibly be a little too polished for some but I think that’s usually a cop out complaint. What we have here is an album that really brings back everything that was good about country music when I was growing up and manages to leave out the slow descent in to what has become country radio these days. In fact, I’d venture to say that there isn’t a track on here that you couldn’t swing your significant other around a sawdust covered floor to. This is pure and honest country album with no aspirations to be anything but just that.
Now when you set out to make a record like this, there’s always the chance that you’ll end up looking pretentious but Mr. Caudle manages to avoid that and still walk the line. From the perfectly place steel guitar to the natural twang in the vocals each song gives the appearance of being effortless. There aren’t any barn burners on this one and I think I might have liked one but at the same time that may have taken away from mellow place these paint in your head. If I had to pick a best time and place to give this one a listen it would near the end of a road trip, the last freeway before home in your sights, with the windows down on a spring evening. It’s just that sort of feeling, at least for me, and maybe that’s partly because it feels like Caleb found his home in these songs.
Without any reservation I can say that Carolina Ghost is Essential Listening. The pure country ethos will be hard for anyone to match this year. If you’re already a fan then you’ll love this record, if you’re not familiar with Caleb just yet then this is a great place to jump in. So go on over to his Bandcamp page and jump in on the pre-order happen. Make sure you follow him on Facebook or stalk his pictures on Instagram.