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Caleb Caudle

Crushed Coins – 2018 (Cornelius Chapel)

Reviewed by Jim Hynes

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CDs by Caleb Caudle

Caleb Caudle's continues to grow and experiment a bit on this, his eighth release, "Crushed Coins." Although Caudle, asserts himself with the confidence of a veteran, finding his groove somewhere between a melding of Gram Parsons, late '70s-'80s country, and today's Americana, his music has become both quieter and richer.

Caudle has a true gift for melody. His songs just seem to float gently and the instrumentation (especially the guitars, pedal steel, keyboard, string combination) makes for a dark, brooding sound, using 14 musicians throughout various selections. Digging deep to explore some new sonic approaches, Caudle was influenced by soul, blues and jazz, specifically informed by Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way." Caudle enlists the same producer for his last two albums, Jon Ashley, who has a wide scope having produced for Band of Horses, Hiss Golden Messenger, The War of Drugs and Dawes.

After the first three ethereal songs, the album picks up some energy with "Empty Arms," a blend of fuzz and twang that's an outright love song. The pedal steel provides the country impetus for the bouncy shuffle of "Love's That Wild" before returning to the softer, darker sound on the title track with its bleak lyric, "There's no laughter in this house." That's followed by a gorgeous, piano driven love song, perhaps the album's best, in "Way You Oughta Be Seen." "Madelyn" tries to give hope to a lover who just lost her mom while "Six Feet From the Flowers" finds the protagonist holding on dearly to memories of a lost one. "Until It's Over" reprises the line from the opener, "Lost Without You" in "Until it's over/I'm lost without you/I'm lost without you."

Caudle can deliver solid songs convincingly without a bunch of trappings, but with an attractive sound palette. Listen up - there's some depth in his lyrics too.