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Nothing Is Free

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Album Review

Canadian Carolyn Mark opens Nothing Is Free with "The Business End," a mellow slice of country-folk highlighted by a fine vocal and old-time fiddle. With a touch of grain, Mark's country-flavored vocals will remind No Depression fans of Neko Case; it's a voice that sounds slightly retro, especially backed by a guitar with lots of echo/reverb. There's nothing retro, however, about the lyrics of "The Business End," or its medium-tempo follow-up, "Happy 2B Flying Away"; both are pure singer/songwriter. What works best about the material, though, is the sound of both tracks; the first, a quiet blend of fiddle and acoustic guitar, the latter (though it sounds too much like a leftover Case arrangement), a blend of acoustic guitar, a bouncy electric lead, and solid harmony on the choruses. The lyrics are another matter, especially on the first track. Depending on one's point of view, "The Business End" is a lesson in deep writing or navel gazing, with the narrator "praying for a disaster to come and solve/all the problems I don't have." The sound, however, would be enough to recommend Nothing Is Free, if the remainder of the album was as strong as the first two cuts. These two songs, though, are very good, and if one has patience, the final track, "Destination You," offers an intriguing deviation from everything that has come before it on Nothing Is Free. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Born: Sicamous, British Columbia, Canad

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Canadian alt-country singer/songwriter Carolyn Mark was born and raised in Sicamous, British Columbia, growing up on her family's dairy farm. Taught piano by her father, himself an accomplished violinist, in 1991 she surfaced as a member of the Victoria, B.C.-based all-girl rock combo the Vinaigrettes, touring Canada and the western U.S. relentlessly over the next seven years. After the group's 1998 dissolution, Mark formed the Corn Sisters, a duo with fellow insurgent country diva Neko Case -- a...
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Nothing Is Free, Carolyn Mark
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