ESSENTIAL "Bad Liver and Broken Heart"
Authentic voices are so rare these days, it's easy to overpraise newcomers but Carll's debut ushers in a compelling major voice. Following in the tradition of his many Texas predecessors, Carll delivers a set of songs filled with little epiphanies, lyrical dexterity and dirt dry wit. He's an observant storyteller who knows life's struggles and understands that it's the small moments that make the difference and keep us walking towards the light. Carll's gritty voice evokes wind blown roads and lousy motels and he often underlines it with some cranky, carousing guitars ("Bad Liver and Broken Heart"). On "Faulkner Street," spiced with lap steel guitar, Carll creates a richly detailed portrait of simple joys and aching memory all filled with sharp characters under four minutes. "Lover Like You" is a smoking honky-tonk hell-raiser so few get right these days and he balances it with the humor of "She Left Me for Jesus." A record like this shows you the trouble with normal country.