Born in Oregon and based in Seattle, Carrie Clark’s diverse musical background includes stints playing folk, rock and big band jazz, all of which, to some degree or another, feed into Between the Bed Sheets & Turpentine, her fourth album, now being given a wider, international, release after first surfacing below the radar in 2011.
With instrumentation that encompasses mandolin, accordion and ukulele as well as the usual bass, drums and, provided by Clark, guitar and piano, the music leans primarily to folk and bluegrass, the former exemplified by the slow sway of Forgotten Time with the lilting I’m A Lark and Where Are You waving the flag for the latter.
While well played and sung, like piano torch ballad Fade Away, the throatier, strings soaked rock of the bluesy slow burn Down At My Knees and urgent punk rocking environmental protest track What have We Done, they’re not sufficiently different to set her and her band apart from the crowd.
However, they do have some individual strings to their bow, the album opening with the theatrical swing of Bum Bah Dum, a tale of a seductress with a title line chorus and use of accordion that harks to burlesque and vaudeville, a mood mirrored on The Night Before (from whence the album title comes) with its klezmer shimmy and jazzy big band swing. Likewise, Chilly Winds is a wheezy gypsy jazz skitter romping along on accordion and banjo while, with its double bass spine, a flurrying The Stranger weaves together jazz, shanty folk and spaghetti western shades.
A whole album of such diversions might be too much, but here they bring flourishes of colour to the basic foundations, giving the collection a variety of stylistic dimensions before it ends on the soft country shuffle sway lullabye Sing Me. In delivering the staple ingredients, they’re certainly solid enough to warrant interest, but the idiosyncrasies ensure they sustain it.
Review by: Mike Davies
Released on Red Bug Records, out now