Carlene Carter: Stronger (YepRoc/Southbound)

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Carlene Carter: Why Be Blue
Carlene Carter: Stronger (YepRoc/Southbound)

It's hardly surprising that on her first album in more than a dozen years there are songs about loss: in 2003 she buried her mother June Carter, her stepfather Johnny Cash, her partner Howie Epstein (of Tom Petty's Heartbreakers) and her sister Rosie.

That said, this album seems to also want to live up to its title and on material like Why Be Blue and I'm So Cool she shakes the bar walls, and elsewhere brings some country-rock into play, or digs into what might be called New Country (the especially good To Change Your Heart).

Interestingly a couple of these 12 originals are from her vaults, including It Takes One to Know Me which Johnny covered back in the early 70s, and some are songs which she was selling as demos online. The reason? Carter has had what we might charitably call a troubled life and her previous albums hadn't sold.

But here in the hands of her producer/stepbrother John Carter Cash she seems back on track and her songwriting is confident, although perhaps not enough of these grip in the way that best (the gorgeous ballad Spider Lace among them) do.

That said, if a kind of country-rock with heart and attitude peppered by songs of genuine emotional impact is your thing you could do a lot worse than this.

Nice to (sort of) have her back.

The video is of her in rockin' out mode on I'm So Cool.

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