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Album Review

CARSIE BLANTON
BUOYED BY LOVE

There are conspiracies in the music world just as there are everywhere, but I thought nothing along that line when Devon Sproule made mention of Carsie Blanton in an interview. Musicians are always supporting other musicians because at times it seems like someone has to, but when I saw Sproule's name listed in the Thank You section of Blanton's liner notes of Buoy, I became suspicious. Maybe there is a conspiracy among the independents, I'm thinking. Maybe they are trying to maximize their impact, bump the stars out of the picture, make music for music's sake! It is after all, an intriguing concept.

While there might be a plethora of musicians out there attempting just that, those two stick out. Devon Sproule's latest album, Don't Hurry For Heaven, recently released after a long delay, has received numerous accolades from a variety of sources (one listen to Sponji Reggae will explain that) while Blanton has held her own with Buoy. Put them on the same stage and they would more than likely be one another's biggest fan, if just for a night, and it would be right. They are both in the top percentile of musicians out there, even outside of the singer/songwriter genre, and those albums prove it (read my take on Sproule's here and her take on music and life here). My take on Blanton follows...

Buoy: If you thought the world was anything but love, Blanton might just convince you otherwise. With light, just-short-of-little-girl voice (a youthful, refreshing and upbeat voice), she takes us through the ups and downs of love and everything attached.--- pain, joy, heartache, bliss--- and does it without trips into the abysmal. I know! Unheard of, eh!? She somehow has the ability to sift the angst from the emotion and give us, song after song, a crystal clear vision of what is usually murky, at best, and she does it with innocence. This is not love as an ideal, but it is love seen through the eyes of an idealist.

Most people think songwriting is simple. Find a decent chord structure, write some lyrics and, voila, you have a song! I state here that most people are delusional. They do not understand how few people have the ability to match one with the other. Let me tell you here and now that Carsie Blanton is definitely one of the few and Buoy is as good a primer as you can find. You want an example? Buoy itself is a shining example, but okay, I'll separate one from the herd... Please. You take a light riff a la The Beatles' I'll Follow the Sun sped up just slightly, support it with outstanding and appropriate electric guitar finger picking (why don't people finger pick electrics anymore?) and lay a beautiful vocal over the top with lyrics as good as they come:

You can bring me flowers, you can carry me around
Smile proudly everywhere we go
Talk to me for hours, honey, roll the windows down
Drive me to a town that I don't know
But baby take it easy, ain't I told you where I stand?
It's been much too long since I been free
I don't mind the kissing or the way you hold my hand
But please stop falling in love with me

Nothing fancy, but that is the beauty of it. The lyrics are laid out so well that you don't even notice. Try it sometime. It ain't easy, even though Blanton makes it seem so.

That is just one example and you really have to hear it to hear the magic, but it gives you an inkling. The album is packed with that magic, but your first time through you may not notice until the very end. With the deft touch just south of Jackson Browne, Blanton seals the deal with a love song above and beyond: Crazy For Love. It is a heart-squeezing look at loneliness and I didn't mention Browne just to drop a name. If you listen closely and imagine Browne's voice over the top, you know that he could sing this like it was one of his own.

Like a woman on fire going crazy for water
Like a drowning man crazy for breath just above
Crazy with hunger are poverty's daughters
I was born being lonely, I'm crazy for love

Crazy for love, it's everyone's madness
Love, but we don't do it by rote
Love, when the whole world is sickened with sadness
Love is the antidote

If I thought it would do any good I'd just print the lyrics, but Buoy is a dish best served whole. Carsie Blanton has put together a beauty of an album and all she asks is a chance. It's the least we can do, eh?

By the way, everyone involved in this project deserves a nod, but there are too many to list here, but allow me to mention Pete Donnelly, whose musicianship and production and engineering skills perfectly matched the songs with the sound. Sometimes, when the music really comes together, it is pure pleasure to hear and Donnelly deserves mention if not outright praise.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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