Barton Carroll has many stories to tell; he always tells them straight, and few are truly happy.
Carroll, a North Carolina native who now calls Seattle home, has a stout pen and a nimble ear, and nowhere is this more prominent than Together You and I. The overshadowing presence of a brother on his younger sibling in “Shadowman” is painful, but the details are akin to fine fiction – descriptive, emotive, and heartbreaking. This and other poignant story-songs are mainstays of Carroll’s, although the musical accompaniment that colors these 10 tracks signals a new – and welcome – direction.
Unlike previous releases, Carroll infuses instrumental soul throughout, lending swing to “The Poor Boy Can’t Dance” with the help of Craig Flory’s brass, and leveraging his calcium croon with the sweet, airy delivery of Anna Lisa Notter on the title track and “Let’s Get on with the Illusion.” The enhanced orchestration dyes Carroll’s songwriting with multi-dimensional tones, yet all tracks on this release are not equal. Like a winter’s freeze after a summer’s bloom, the more stripped down compositions seem frail and brittle in the light of the more fluid and lush arrangements.
In the end, Together You and I is unbalanced; however, four albums in, and the originality and relevance of Barton Carroll’s talent is more apparent than ever.
Together You and I is out now on Skybucket Records.