Monday, June 30, 2014

Caleb Caudle -- Paint Another Layer On My Heart

It seems to me that there are two songs about being happily in a relationship. The first type are happy love songs -- uncomplicated, simple, the perfect summer song. The other type is the kind where the narrator rips him or herself apart, thanking his or her lover for saving them from themselves. John Moreland is the indisputable master of these songs -- he's just so good at beating the shit out of himself. I don't love the second type; it's awful painful to listen to.

Caleb Caudle makes a bold choice with the lead-off track, "How'd You Learn." Rather than recount his many flaws, Caudle instead focuses on his partner's ability to help him grow and become a better person. In my youthful opinion, that's what grown-up relationships are all about: challenging each other to grow. It's not about rescuing.

The rest of the album follows suite. "How'd You Learn" could have been that kind of song. Likewise, while Paint Another Layer could have been about a singer-songwriter's loneliness on tour, it's really about feeling out of place and lonely. Caudle has avoided the pitfalls of sounding like a whiny troubadour and has figured out how to connect with us sedentary people.

To be honest, Caudle's skill wasn't easily seen from my first listen or two. It's hard to feel lonely during a glorious early summer day in New York. But an impending thunderstorm and end-of-year exhaustion gave me the emotional numbness necessary to fully appreciate this album. In other words, if it doesn't grab you at first, give it some time. Caudle is the real deal.

Caleb Caudle -- Official, Facebook, Bandcamp

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