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Various Artists

Highway Prayer, A Tribute to Adam Carroll – 2016 (Eight 30)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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Adam Carroll doesn't boast anywhere near the recognition factor of, say, Bob Dylan, Townes Van Zandt or any of the other far more famous singer/songwriters that astute insiders frequently compare him to. However in the opinion of most insiders, Carroll's acknowledged as one Texas' true treasures, an artist who's earned the respect of his peers and secured a place amongst the best regarded musicians the Lone Star State has to offer.

It's indicative of that admiration that producer/publicist/manager Jenny Finlay and musician/producer Brian T. Atkinson have assembled 15 of Carroll's fellow artists - a prestigious list that includes James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Slaid Cleaves, Danny Barnes, Band of Heathens, Terri Hendrix and Verlon Thompson - to participate in this remarkable homage to Carroll and his craft. The guest of honor himself adds his own voice at the end of the set, but it's these heartfelt renditions - never fussy, barely embellished - that speak to the admiration in which Carroll is held.

Carroll writes songs from a poor man's perspective - honest, slightly tarnished, but always capturing the most common emotions intact. Those sentiments are captured here, and on songs such as "Red Bandana Blues" (Hendrix), "Screen Door" (McMurtry), "Girl With The Dirty Hair" (Carll), "Smoky Mountain Taxi" (Barnes) and "Lil' Runaway" (Thompson), the sweetness and sincerity are never far from the surface. This is a sublime collection, one that bears repeated listens and which, in turn, yields both an introduction to and appreciation for this truly remarkable musician.

Rendered for the most part in a down home drawl, the contributors convey the same sort of dusty perspective that Woody Guthrie himself suggested so early on. Nevertheless, one would be hard pressed to find a more touching tribute. "Highway Prayer" is an essential document, not only for Carroll's admirers but also for anyone who relishes rugged, resilient songs capable of taking on a life of their own.