Carlene Carter

Yep Roc, 2008

REVIEW BY: David Bowling


It has been almost twelve years since Carlene Carter released an album. The former bad girl of country music has endured a lot of tragedy during the past decade. Her mother, June Carter Cash, and stepfather, Johnny Cash, both passed away, followed by the death of her long-term partner Howie Epstein. Finally, her younger sister, Rosey, passed away in October of 2003. All this tragedy led to a relapse of her sobriety.

But today finds Carlene Carter sober and married to actor Joseph Breem. It also finds her releasing an album of redemption and, ultimately, victory.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

In some ways, Carter missed the commercial brass ring in the early 1980’s. Her two country-rock albums Two Sides To Every Woman and Musical Shape were released a decade too early; they would have fit in nicely with the modern Nashville country sound that has made superstars out of such artists as Shania Twain and others.

Stronger finds a mature Carlene Carter who, for the most part, has returned to her country roots. Carter’s voice is still sound and her ability to interpret a song is alive and well.

It is the ballads that form the emotional center of this album: “Spider Lake,” which features a high-end steel guitar as a counterpoint to Carter’s vocals, is a song that puts the listener and hopefully Carter herself at ease; “Judgement Day” is a poignant ballad of love lost; the title cut is really a eulogy for Rosey and the beginning of the resurrection process for Carlene.

“The Bitter End” is a traditional up-tempo country tune with steel guitar that provides a good counterpoint to the serious ballads, while “Why Be Blue” features one of the better vocals on Stronger, and “To Change Your Heart” features an autoharp sound which would have made her grandmother Maybelle proud.

Carlene Carter does return to her ‘80s sound for two songs: “Bring Love” is a joyful song of perseverance in the face of adversity with a smooth country-rock beat; the other, “I’m So Cool,” was originally released in 1980 and here she gives it a rousing, rocking spin.

Stronger may not explore new musical territory but it is an excellent and mature effort from a talented individual. Hopefully, it will be nowhere near twelve years before Carlene Carter records the next chapter of her life.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 David Bowling and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Yep Roc, and is used for informational purposes only.