American South in Song: Caroline Herring
Images of a young girl catching fireflies and the flames of buildings burning intertwine in Fireflies. The title track, Camilla, takes its name from a Georgia town, and the story of a pregnant woman there who was beaten during the civil rights days, and went on to become a lawyer. Herring's gift for telling a story and making character ring true in just a few well chosen lines come through clearly in these songs. White Dress is another song grounded in a moment during the civil rights days, when a young white girl gave a young black woman glass of water.
Until You Go, Flee as a Bird, and Joy Never Ends (Auld Lang Syne) make a trilogy on the depths of grief and the nature of healing, as well as the persistence of connection. Summer Song finds hope in the midst of images of a hard summer in the south. The center piece of the album, though, may well be Maiden Voyage, a story that arose out of Herring’s trip with her then four year old daughter to see the inauguration of President Obama -- which, in fact, they did not get to see -- with connections to history and hope and the long story of America all the same.
Herring, who grew up in Mississippi, has lived in the Washington DC area and in Texas, and is now based in Georgia. All those aspects of the American south, as well as her immersion in southern literature and southern folk tradition find their places in Herring’s work and lend depth to her own unique and compelling perspective and sound. Her graceful alto anchors that sound here, in melody and style that is based in that southern folk music and draws in flavors of country and blues and Appalachian sound.
Artists you’ve met here before along the music road support Herring on this project, too. Andrea Zonn adds violin and viola to Joy Never Ends. Bryn Davies brings in her always tasteful chops on bass through the album, while Claire Holley, Aoife O’Donovan, Kathryn Roberts, Jackie Oates, and Mary Chapin Carpenter sit in for harmonies at various points on the project, which was produced by Erick Jaskowiack.
Vivid storytelling, a unique point of view, a graceful lead voice and fine support, a sense of place that illuminates ideas beyond it boundaries, wisdom in the words and in the music: Caroline Herring offers all of these in Camilla.
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