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Carsie Blanton

Buck Up – 2019 ( Self-released)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Carsie Blanton

Carsie Blanton stands shoulder to shoulder with the current crop of female singer/songwriters, including Nikki Lane, Kacey Musgraves, Elle King, Patti Rothberg and Elizabeth Cook, who have no discernible interest in adhering to genre restrictions and industry expectations, blazing fresh musical trails with material that exists in its own brilliantly unique pigeonhole. And for those just hearing her name, that's on you; Blanton has released five full length studio albums over the past 15 years, her debut, 2005's "Ain't So Green," when she was 19, she's opened for Paul Simon, Shawn Colvin and The Weepies, Loudon Wainwright III is a fervent fan, John Oates compared her to Cole Porter, and she's developed a card game as well as a pay-what-you-like artist-to-fan platform.

For "Buck Up," her sixth full album, Blanton follows her well established path of couching her social and sexual lyrical observations in a steamy musical stew that incorporates styles as broad as the spectrum between her avowed influences, The Beatles and Tom Waits, including but not limited to folk, jazz, pop and blues. Blanton veers toward the Waits end of her sonic pallet on the wonderfully lascivious "Jacket," with its loping boho syncopation and spoken/sung lyrics of stalking seduction, and the heartrending smolder of "Desire," and then channels the vibe of one-time Waits paramour Rickie Lee Jones on the jazzy swing of "That Boy."

Blanton's voluptuous and smoky vocal fry, reminiscent of Over the Rhine's Karin Bergquist, is on full display throughout the 10 tracks on "Buck Up," particularly the opener, the Squirrel Nut Zippers/second line parade jaunt of "Twister," the laconic bluesy swagger of "Bed" and the joyfully buoyant jaunt of "Moustache." And Blanton draws so much humor and structure from John Prine on the closing title track that she offered him a writing credit on the song, which bounces along like a collaboration between Prine, Iris DeMent and R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders.

Blanton has obviously never been interested in attracting a targeted audience, since she has cast a wide and inclusionary genre net on every release so far. "Buck Up" is merely the latest, and perhaps greatest, example of her mastery of style and her total rejection of musical borders.