Texas singer/songwriter/upright bassist Melissa Carper is well on her way to becoming a very big name in the country world. While last year’s Daddy’s Country Gold wasn’t her first album, it finally garnered critical acclaim and wider audiences (and a high spot on my year-end list, for what it’s worth). She’s already back with a new LP, called Ramblin’ Soul, with which she should be able to continue the triumphal march. Once again you’ll hear a sound from a bygone era, in which country, soul, jazz, R&B, bluegrass and western swing merge, once again it’s the distinctive vocals of Carper that steal the show. That doesn’t mean it’s more of exactly the same: the 13 new tracks – including covers by Brennen Leigh (Hanging On To You) and Odetta (Hit or Miss) – are more diverse and upbeat, delivered with more confidence and humor. An earworm like Boxers on Backwards is probably the strongest example of that fresh breeze, but actually everything here is enjoyable. Authentic, unique and uplifting.
Ramblin’ Soul, produced by Dennis Crouch and Andrija Tokic, is out now digitally on CD and vinyl LP via Mae Music / Thirty Tigers. With contributions from Dennis Crouch (bass), Chris Scruggs (guitars), John Pahmer (organ, piano), Matty Meyer (drums), Billy Contreras (fiddle), Rory Hoffman (piano, nylon string guitar, clarinet), Wes Langlois (rhythm guitar), and Larry Marrs, Sierra Ferrell, Kyshona Armstrong, Nickie Conely and Maureen Murphy for harmony vocals.