Southern Comfort

Regina Carter

Sony Masterworks, 2014

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Though she's widely known for being a jazz violinist, Regina Carter can pretty much do whatever she wants with her talents. With a steady string of solo releases from 1995 until now, Carter also played with Billy Joel, Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin and Lauryn Hill while cutting her teeth in New York in the early '90s, building up an impressive resume. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Giving her listeners yet another dimension to her song craft, Southern Comfort has Carter diving headfirst in bluegrass, country and Southern influenced folk sounds. Known for her tribute albums, this time she chooses to share songs that were exposed to her grandfather, while also adding a couple contemporary tracks as well. The end result is a mixed bag of graceful, adventurous and culturally rich tracks.

Seeing as her grandfather was a miner, the appropriately titled opener "Miner's Child" starts the affair with busy instrumentation and Carter's violin acrobatics sounding so precise. "Trampin'" follows and switches gears into a funky tune with emphasis on percussion and some subdued singing. Other notable surprises include the Cajun blues of "Blues de Basile" and orchestral rock feel of "I Moaned And I Moaned," both of which show incredible versatility for all the musicians involved.

Of the covers, it's a toss up between the slow, haunting version of the Gram Parsons gem "Hickory Wind" or the back porch shuffling of the Hank Williams "Honky Tonkin'." Both are so well executed, it's nearly impossible to designate one as better than the other. Similarly, traditional songs like "Cornbread Crumbled In Gravy" and "See See Rider" are both reworked with lush, full instrumentation and violins solos that resonate with much timelessness and imaginable skill.

Along with an accordion and the standard guitar, bass and drums, you'd think Carter's violin might be drowned out here, but it remains the centerpiece throughout most of this. The word Americana might be the most thrown around phrase to describe music these days, but when you apply it to Southern Comfort it takes on an entirely different meaning, adding incredible class to warm sounds.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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