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Bill Carter

Bill Carter – 2017 (Forty Below)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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If, after making his bow a decade or so ago, Bill Carter's decision to title his new album "Bill Carter" seems a somewhat humble retreat as far as his own modesty is concerned, it only takes a listen to understand why it was dubbed appropriately. Carter's stripped down approach in keeps things simple, offering all indication that he is indeed going back to basics.

Indeed, that's evident at the outset. Carter turns this new effort into a one-man show, playing all the instruments and, naturally, singing solo as well. Not that it's a complex mix; guitar and harmonica are the mainstays here, and with Carter himself sitting behind the boards, the entire album emulates the sound of a frantic folkie sitting on a solitary stage in intimate environs. He adapts a tempestuous tone throughout, thanks to songs that rail against present day circumstance and the turmoil that plagues a troubled world. "Crossfire," "Why Get Up?" and "That's What I'm Doin' Here" are protest songs of the vintage variety, and while Carter shifts the template in a couple of instances (the bluesy laments "Richest Man" and "Eva Bible and the album's best song, an unassuming ballad called "Paris," being the most obvious examples), Carter tends to take a determined stance. No matter. Given present circumstances, Carter has plenty of reason to rail.

Ultimately, "Bill Carter" stands alone as a singular set of songs - personal, observational and flush with emotion and resilience. It's a defining effort, and one that underscores Carter's relationship to an increasingly hostile world. Kudos to the man for not only speaking his mind but for also daring to delineate right from wrong with such stoic and steadfast conviction.