With accolades and endorsements from critics and fellow musicians alike, Caroline Herring has emerged as one of the most literate and distinctive songwriters of her generation. The talented songstress from Atlanta, Georgia, is set to release her sixth album, Camilla (Signature Sounds Records) on August 28, 2012.
Named “Best New Artist” at the 2002 Austin Music Awards, Herring has been profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” been a guest on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion, and was the only American representative involved in the prestigious Cecil Sharp Project in England, a group of musicians commissioned to compose music based on the life and collections of the famous song catcher. In April 2012, Texas Music Magazine named Herring’s song, “Mistress,” as one of the top 50 all-time best Texas songs to come out of that music drenched state, and her album, Twilight, as one of its top 50 essential Texas records.
Camilla is arguably her best, most fully realized creation to date. “I feel braver on this album,” Herring says, “and I feel it represents me wholly.” It should. Herring is the sole author of nine of the album’s ten tracks. The outlier, “Flee As A Bird,” is a hymn from the 1840s that Herring rescued from the archives and reinterpreted with the same skill and ingenuity that she brings to her original compositions. Every element of this production has Herring’s stamp on it, including her commissioning British folk artist Alice Pattullo to produce the album art, which visually echoes several of Herring’s songs.
As a songwriter, Herring has distinguished herself by writing about big, difficult subjects with precision and grace. She does so again on this album with songs like the title track “Camilla,” an account of a brutal scene of civil rights struggle in Camilla, Georgia, that is also an inspiring tale of one woman’s determination to overcome. It is history written in verse, as is the heartbreaking “Black Mountain Lullaby,” a timeless folk song and as damning a condemnation of greed and environmental degradation as one is likely to hear. Herring also mines the literary world for inspiration, as she has done numerous times on previous albums. In this case it is a Eudora Welty short story, “A Worn Path,” that Herring uses to produce the poignant “Traveling Shoes,” an a cappella offering in which she is joined in gorgeous harmony by Mary Chapin Carpenter and Aoife O’Donovan.
Mary Chapin Carpenter says, “As a singer, Caroline Herring’s distinctively beautiful voice sets her apart. And her songwriting is just as distinctive. Camilla, Herring’s latest work, combines these talents to present an artist who is unafraid and uncompromising in her work. As a witness, a historian, a truth teller, a gypsy, a mother, a sister, a lover, Herring takes the listener on a journey with her head and her heart, and there is no more enlightening experience one could have.”
Produced in Nashville by Erick Jaskowiak—who has worked with artists such as Alison Krauss, Crooked Still, and the Chieftains—Camilla showcases some of Nashville’s most talented studio musicians. Herring also brings in well-known musical friends, which, aside from Carpenter and O’Donovan, include the UK’s Jackie Oates and Kathryn Roberts along with Sean Lakeman on guitar and Canadian Leonard Podolak on banjo. It makes for Herring’s fullest sounding album in years. She might be known for her intimate folk songs, but with Bryn Davies’ driving bass lines and choice mandolin, fiddle, banjo and pedal still licks supplied by Fats Kaplin (both of whom have been traveling, most recently, with Jack White), Herring’s new album will delight folk and alt-country fans both.
Upcoming performances of note include a show at London’s Cecil Sharp House on August 29, 2012 and on Mississippi Public Radio’s “Thacker Mountain Radio” on Sept. 20th, a radio show for musicians and authors she helped found while in college in Oxford, Mississippi. Performances are being added weekly at www.carolineherring.com.
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