This album is an absoluite treasure trove of riches: the songs, the singing and the music all have complexities that take time to explore and offer new possibilities of appreciation and interpretation each time round. Broadly country in character, but not shackled by any genre constraints, 'The Jeopardy of Circumstance' is an impressive collaboration between Carrie Elkin, songwriter and singer, and her production team of Colin Brooks, Mark Addison and Amy Burchette.
Colin and Mark play an impressive array of instruments between them - drums, guitars, keyboards, lap steel, bouzouki - and each song seems to get a separate combination of these elements.Mostly, the arrangements are quite full with lots of detail as one instrument after another appears for a few bars. Even the songs that sound sparser, such as 'Black Lung' - about her father's death from a mining related disease - have a surprising number of instruments deployed, though this song retains its stark dignity throughout. Another song, 'Roots and Wings', has an arrangement that reflects the title quite magnificently. Having laid its roots in a simple, understated melodic construction, the song steadily takes wing with soaring guitars before being brought back to its roots as Carrie quietly re-states her opening stanza.
Throughout, the music surprises; never quite doing the obvious thing, or at least not just the obvious thing. This is true of Carrie's singing, too. Her style is pretty straightforward and unaffected but can move from a delicate fragility to a strong, vibrato-rich forcefulness as the occasion demands. Best of all, she is fantastically expressive, adding so much to the words that appear on the page - an actor's facility for making the lyric come alive. Her lyrics are observations of ordinary lives, quite oblique at times; I mentioned that 'Black Lung' was about her father's death but given that at least two songs, written in the first person, are about men, it could be that she just feels more comfortable constructing her stories as if she's living them herself. Each song is nicely constructed, not obviously conventional but, like The Band's songs of old , having a clear idea of shape and rhythm that is so satisfying to listen to. I'm not sure quite how long she's been playing music, but this is her fourth album and reflects an accumulated skill in achieving on disc the song in her head. These are songs that grow on you and have it in them to become well-loved friends = excellent stuff. www.carrieelkin.com