Dave Carter’s haunting words and voice are a synergy of styles and influences of folk storytelling. This new work, with the vocal and musical collaboration of multi-instrumentalist partner Tracy Grammer, is a good example of postmodern urban folk music at its most mosaic. The CD samples a rich heritage of both old and new folk idioms, and Carter’s songs appropriately draw from multiple styles, ranging from bluegrass and country to blues and contemporary folk rock. The synthesis makes for a lush, familiar, and polished sound with a singular strength: Carter is a sophisticated storyteller who can lyrically reach into the past to achieve a more contemporary sound, with seamless panache. Both “Merlin’s Lament” and “Ordinary Town” invoke James Taylor and Joni Mitchell yet command a unique lyricism all their own. Drum Hat Buddha marks the most recent stage in the evolution of a musical sound that acknowledges the past while weaving a tapestry all its own. -- Elena Simon
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