Caroline Herring: Golden Apples of the Sun
Golden Apples of the Sun
Listening to Caroline Herring’s latest album is a bit like having a good conversation with a friend, one that spins long into the night as you share stories, talk over old times, think about questions you’ve asked, questions you’ve answered, and those you still have, catch up up on what may be next, and encourage each other along the way.
There is a lot going on in this album, anchored musically by Herring’s natural storyteller’s voice and phrasing, and by sparse production featuring playing by just Herring and producer David Goodrich. The twelve tracks unfold a journey guided by Herrings questing and questioning spirit, something which will come as no surprise to those who have met Herring through her earlier albums Twilight, Wellspring, and Lantana. In the opening cut, Tales of the Islander, you meet the powerful presence of Gulf Coast artist Walter Anderson amidst memories of hurricanes, and in another Herring original, Abuelita, there’s a grandmother who might be yours, might be mine, or might be the woman by the road whose glance holds many stories.
True Colors, which was made popular by rocker Cindy Lauper, is stripped down and reimagined in Herring’s version and emerges as a country tinged love song -- or maybe a gospel one. Either way, it works as true to the essence of the song. So does her take on Long Black Veil, which actually is a contemporary country song although it’s often taken for an ancient folk ballad. She puts her own stamp on the blues song See See Rider, too, subtly recasting it as a song of freedom rather than one of escape.
A Little Bit of Mercy, another one of the originals, offers the chance and invitation to forgive, both one’s own self, and others. Song of the Wandering Aengus, from which the tile comes, is a WB Yeats poem set to music. It’s been recorded before, too, but again Herring is unafraid to strike her own balance with the ideas of the song and add to the understanding of it. The Wild Rose is a mosaic of sorts, with pieces from Herring, Neruda, and Berry, all working together to make a pattern where the ideas turn and dance with each other. It's a song that bears repeated listening.
As does the whole album. There are more facets to this gem each time around.
photograph of Caroline Herring at Celtic Connections Festival, copyright Kerry Dexter
you may also want to see
Music Road: ten songs
caroline herring: lantana
Wilderness Plots: the dvd
Tish Hinojosa: Our Little Planet