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Alright Dynamite

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Album Review

Carson is the latest protégée of legendary songwriter ("Wild Thing") and producer Chip Taylor. After a lifetime of writing rock and pop songs, Taylor reinvented himself as a folk/Americana performer a few years back and worked for several years as a duo with Carrie Rodriguez, who recently went solo. Taylor and Carson don't perform as a duo, but he does write most of Carson's songs and produced this, her second album, with a light touch that combines folk and laid-back rock impulses. The songs Taylor wrote for the album, with and without Carson's input, are fine but not particularly memorable. The same goes for the music. Carson's a champion fiddler and a vet of several folk-rock bands in her native Canada, but she doesn't play anything on this album that will make you sit up and take notice. The four tunes Carson wrote with Taylor are among the strongest on the album, so as she gains confidence as a songwriter, she may be able to put more of her own stamp on her records. The Carson/Taylor tunes include "New Shoes," a midtempo rocker about a gal kicking up her heels and raising hell. John Platania's electric guitar and Carson's fiddling give the track a jaunty air, and Carson's vocal has restrained sensuality that fits the tune perfectly. "Oh Baby Lie Down," the album opener, is a slow blues with a lyric that's both explicit and subtle; Carson sings it with a catch in her throat that makes it simmer. "One Blue Dress on the Line" is a country-folk number about coming of age that Carson delivers in a voice that combines innocence and experience to good effect, while "Jesse James," a midtempo country rocker accented by Hammond B-3, is about a boy named Jesse, not the outlaw. It's an explicitly sexual song, but with a disgruntled edge that keeps it from being sexy. Taylor tries writing tunes from a female perspective for Carson, but lyrically most don't work. "Belt Buckle" has a memorable tune and a solid groove, but it tries too hard to be sexy. The country rocker "Seven Shadows on My Golden Roses" has a cryptic but arresting lyric, and a strong melody. It may be the catchiest tune on the album. "I Don't Wanna Be Your Mother" is a put-down of an old lover, but Carson's vocal doesn't have enough anger or biting humor to make the song work. Likewise the rocker "Submarine," an attempt to make Carson sound like a femme fatale that falls flat. The one cover, Janis Joplin's "Oh Lord, Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz" is recast as a midtempo hoedown, but it doesn't add anything to the original, which is probably the weakest song Joplin ever recorded. Carson plays a bit of hot fiddle on the track, but again it's nothing special. With her youthful good looks, sultry voice, and solid fiddle chops, Carson could be a star on the folk/ Americana circuit, but she'll have to cut loose a bit more and come up with a few memorable tunes to make that happen. ~ j. poet, Rovi


Born: Victoria, British Columbia, Canad

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

In 2007 the 22-year-old fiddler, singer, and songwriter Kendel Carson issued her first album on Chip Taylor's Train Wreck label. ."...Carson's debut CD, Rearview Mirror Tears, marks the emergence of a big new talent on today's vast country-rock scene," noted David J. Cantor at Sound Stage. Rearview Mirror Tears, however, only represented the latest incarnation of a lifelong commitment to music. Born in Canada, Carson studied the fiddle and was performing by the age of three with the Victoria Symphony....
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Alright Dynamite, Kendel Carson
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