July 2007

Kendel Carson - Rearview Mirror Tears
Train Wreck Records TW0026
Format: CD
Released: 2007

by David J. Cantor

Musical Performance ****
Recording Quality ****
Overall Enjoyment ****

Kendel Carson’s debut CD, Rearview Mirror Tears, marks the emergence of a big new talent on today’s vast country-rock scene. Veteran singer-songwriter Chip Taylor produced the album, writing most of the songs and shepherding the project to completion with meticulous attention to detail. That includes the disc’s just-right sound: crisply recorded and well mixed but with plenty of garage-band edge that gives some tunes an Allman Brothers-like kick.

On the one hand, the material casts the singer as a "bad girl" and on the other as sensitive and soul-searching. "I Like Trucks" typifies the first of these not-incompatible strains:

I like cars that go fast
I like boys that talk trash
And take it as it comes …
I ain’t afraid of anything.

The refrain of "Just What Happened to the Moon" offers compelling lines of another sort:

Just what happened to the moon last night
And did it make you talk out of your head
And did the big moon shinin’ make you feel alright
And did you mean everything you said.

A fiddle prodigy from her youngest days, Carson now shows natural vocal talent on this debut disc -- the raunchy and the tender alike. The skilled band helps her shine through its broad subtle-to-powerful energy. She would seem to have a long music career ahead of her if she wants it, though I hope she will add sociopolitical themes to her repertoire. After all, just liking trucks won’t get us down the road, and we are about out of our heads with love songs.