Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
My first impressions were: “Who is Adam Carroll and why are they doing a tribute to him?” Adam Carroll is a Texas singer/songwriter who was seven CDs under his belt. Adam Carroll has the ability to take seemingly mundane events in people’s lives and turn these events into wonderful stories and songs. As research for this review, I started listening to Carroll’s material and I was astounded that I had never heard of him before. I guess it is hard to know about everyone, but Carroll is really good. It is amazing how he can take a small momentary frame in time and create an entire story around it. A perfect example of this is Sno Cone Man. This is one example in a long list of Carroll’s songs where he demonstrates this extraordinary talent.
This tribute album features some heavy hitters in the Americana realm such as James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Slaid Cleves, and Band Of Heathens, among others. All of the songs on the tribute are great. A mix of folk and country, with outstanding lyrics. Every song paints a vivid picture in my mind, similar to a novel. Not many songwriters have the ability to tell such a detailed story in three to four minutes as Carroll can do. All of the artists on this tribute interpret Carroll’s compositions flawlessly. The last song is performed by Adam Carroll himself called My Only Good Shirt. I have to say this is my favorite. Again this is like choosing between shrimp and lobster, either way you are a winner. Carroll uses a shirt as a metaphor for his career. He pulls it off perfectly and does it in a way that makes me say, “Wow, how can anyone write so beautifully?” Carroll says, “I’m not Viva Las Vegas, but I’m Motel 6 famous, and they always know me by name.” That’s absolutely brilliant writing. A little bit funny, and a lot intelligent. He takes pen and paper to a whole new level.
I am not a huge fan of tribute albums but this one is different. These songs are all actually really good and listenable. There are no clunkers, which is usually the case with tribute albums. Now that I have gotten over my embarrassment of not knowing who Adam Carroll is, I can now concentrate on the music. I am using this tribute as a gateway drug to access Carroll’s works. And you should as well. This tribute and Carroll’s music needs to be heard for the love of folk and country music.