Barton Carroll continues with his singular warm style of folk/Americana, soaked in the feel of old English and Scots-Irish tunes. We’re going to let Carroll tell you about his new record in his words, as they truly get to the heart of what Carroll’s music is all about.
“My method changed with this record. And while I would still insist that the stories and details are too nebulous to be literal, the title of the album is Avery County, I’m Bound to You. And I did indeed grow up in Avery County, North Carolina. And I do indeed feel bound to that place.
“Perhaps I’m going through a mid-life crisis. Actually, I’m sure of it. It’s so damned scary when you get your first glimpse of the end of the road that you tend to look back hard at the journey so far. As much as I’ve resisted writing autobiographically on my previous work, I just couldn’t get around it on this album. I didn’t even try. So these songs are reflections of an upbringing in the Appalachian Mountains seen through the lens of several years of city life on the West Coast. Like when Tom Waits sings, ‘I never saw the East Coast until I moved to the West.’
“My musical memories always echo with Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley and other Old Time voices. But while working on the songs for Avery County, I’m Bound to You, I had records by Bad Religion and The Jam on the turntable and in my headphones. Bad Religion for directness, clarity and boldness of language, and the Jam for regional loyalty, passion and unashamed use of dialect. Those guys put the vocals up front and sing it like they mean business. It’s something I think they have in common with folk music.
Literature is also a big influence. After the long, blank-page sessions waiting for the lyric-muse to make an appearance, I would read Nabokov, Martin Amis, Saul Bellow, and Norman Mailer. Authors who can stretch words to the edge of their meaning. I did my best to channel them on songs like ‘The Straight Mile’ and ‘Laveda’. I re-read “To Kill a Mockingbird” and studied Harper Lee’s unique voice for ‘Mama’s Making Something on the Loom’.”—Barton Carroll