Barton Carroll is the poetic voice behind earnest tunes reflecting life experiences and narrative fiction in all four of his works to date. The stories told in his latest album, Avery County, I’m Bound To You, are equally as thought provoking and twice as personal. The record takes a look back at Carroll’s life growing up in Avery County, North Carolina, and unfolds a more autobiographical facet not previously explored.
In the first three minutes, Carroll does what some musicians can’t with 30: enticing the listener with intrigue and personality, keeping them from ever pressing the pause or replay button. Opening track “The Straight Mile” paints a picture with words of what is surely the namesake county, in explicit detail that handsomely draws the outline for the story being told.
While writing, Carroll derived inspiration by re-reading novels like To Kill A Mockingbird to attain the voice of a storyteller in addition to listening to bands like Bad Religion and Jam to harness the boldness of language and unashamed use of dialect for his album. The end product is a series of tracks that aren’t dependent on just one or two obvious singles to act as support for an otherwise uninteresting release.
Though “Pauline” is perhaps the most romantic and maudlin of the bunch, “Mama’s Making Something On The Loom” and “Every Little Bit Hurts” are certainly the most notable for their overt honesty and brilliant composition, wasting no effort on censorship.
Avery County is an exceptional release that is well deserving of its praise. It’s full of profundity and depth, in keeping with contemporary folk-country music, and it remains a joy to listen to. By far, this album is the absolute best work that Barton Carroll has composed to date, and may be a difficult act to follow.
In A Word: Outstanding