Caleb Caudle - Carolina Ghost
A Review by Robert Dean
The thing about Caleb Caudle is he’s not what you expect, like not even sort of. Despite having friends all over the spectrum of country music, Caleb is very much doing his own damn thing.
Sonically, Caleb’s new record Carolina Ghost has more in common with 1980’s stalwarts like Travis Tritt, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson or even the Kentucky Headhunters than anything Johnny Cash or Willie Nelson. And you know what? That’s pretty fucking cool.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about some of the gritty throwback stuff, but I’ll be the first to tell you the term “outlaw” is played out. It’s good to see an artist have the nuts to step out there amongst the sea of posers, armed with a clear vision, going rogue from the trends, and announcing backyard music is cool again.
Caleb Caudle has given you a gift: it's ok to want to pop on a record and drink a beer in the yard. You don't have to be at the juke joint, or pine for the days of the Armadillo in Austin. Nope. This is about as fucking Americana as it gets: good tunes, simple music and honesty worn like a badge of courage. The exact thing folks try to do but seemingly end up sounding like shitty copies of Bruce Springsteen. Carolina Ghost inspires those moments where it’s ok to slow dance to the radio, or just shut up and let the music do the talking.
Carolina Ghost is a throwback for anyone who’s in their 30’s (Editors note: or 40's!) and whose parents listened to country music, or watched that White Horse show where all the white people wore matching denim outfits. Carolina Ghost feels like an old pair of slippers, it’s warm and inviting – there’s no posturing or ultra serious brooding, or photos of empty whisky bottles. Instead, the songs are layered, bright and offer a glimpse back into an era of country music that many are extremely tied to.
One thing that sounds out throughout Carolina Ghost is its sense of identity; that it stands on its own and behind its beautiful songwriting. Caleb’s move from New Orleans back to Carolina feels signature on this record, like the chaos of the city left an impression that will mark him forever, but the calling of the back roads delivered him back to the feet of his heritage.
One doesn’t think of the Carolinas as vogue and a hot, trendy spot to live in, and for this message in a bottle to the country he loves, Caudle has done an excellent job at showing you what it really feels like to breathe the country air – and without any of the cliché trappings so many fall to.
Carolina Ghost ain’t Folsom Prison, it ain’t the shuck and jive sound of the Nashville machine, and it ain’t trying to sew a Hank Williams patch on the back of a warrior vest. And you know what? That’s pretty fucking cool.