Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Barbara Carr Keeps the Fire Burning

The veteran soul-blues vocalist Barbara Carr has a new release on Catfood Records, Keep The Fire Burning. This was recorded in Texas and produced by Johnny Rawls and Bob Trenchard with backing by The Rays, Trenchard’s fine studio band. Carr has for the past 15 or so years been recording primarily for Echo whose recordings on occasion had a mechanical backing, although that did not dampen her strong singing.

This new album with backing by The Rays has a more spontaneous feel throughout, although there is a sameness to the backing compared to other recent Catfood releases indicating the label has a definite studio sound. The opening Hanging On a Thread, displays this and the song is one that could have easily be sung by Rawls. A similar flavor characterizes Come On Home, Barbara still does not believe her man has left and pleads for him to return home. The performance also suffers from the use of synthesized horns. I should emphasize that there is nothing wrong with these performances other than they sound like Rawls’ recent Catfood albums and her vocals are more understated here than on the Echo recordings I have heard.

Barbara Carr at 2010 Pocono Blues Festival. Photo © Ron Weinstock
I Got The Blues has Carr singing about her background and being raised in St. Louis where she heard Albert King and Little Milton growing up. Therefore, when she sings the blues, she knows what she is talking about. The title track is a nice southern soul advice that delivered in an easy, natural fashion. Moment of Weakness is a strong lyric by Trenchard about replacing the man she never should have left as she sings that in a moment of weakness she threw their love away. The mood contrasts with the tone of “Back Together Again,” which celebrates two lovers getting back together after many years.

Hold On To What You Got is a nice duet between Carr and Rawls having a message that a good woman/man is hard to find, so hold on to what you got. More synthesized horns are heard on Rawls southern soul original. You Give Me The Blues, as Barbara’s man gives her the ‘low down dirty blues.” Keep The Fire Burning contrasts with the more extroverted vocals that characterized her Echo recordings. Those recordings were also a bit bawdier as well. In any event, this new release by Barbara Carr is welcome and hopefully will expose a new audience to this singer who really should be better known.

I received my review copy from a publicist for the label. Here is Barbara doing one of her Echo recordings, Bone Me Like You Own Me.

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