Caleb Caudle “” Paint Another Layer On My Heart
It aptly conveys the unruffled, if dispirited sentimentwithin, but the rhetorical devices essentially end with the title of CalebCaudle’s new record, Paint Another LayerOn My Heart. Caudle has honed a lyrical style that cuts straight to thequick over the course of six albums “” two since the dissolution of his longtimebacking band the Bayonets. There’s no hedging a line like “I’m on the backroads like a bootlegger/and I’m trying to make it there by dawn/Hugging everycurve with the high-beams on/I can’t take another night alone” on the opener”How’d Your Learn”.
Caudle has dedicated an almost irrational amount of hisdiscography toward songs about heartache and longing, but the thing is, therearen’t many indie country songwriters who can pour on such finely wroughtfeelings in such plainspoken terms. It just so happens that he’s spent a goodportion of the past year on the road with two others in the brilliant,underrated John Moreland and outstanding newcomer Aaron Lee Tasjan, though “agood portion” might be understating it some. In the year following his movefrom Winston-Salem to New Orleans, Caudle playedmore than 300 live shows, a cruciblethat arose from the advice of Shovels & Ropes’ Michael Trent and Cary AnnHearst to simply go and keep going until you can’t go anymore.
The songs on PaintAnother Layer On My Heart were written mostly while he went and then wentfurther, so there are recurring themes of distance and leaving and missing out,even when ostensibly present. It’s not so much a rekindling of ideas ofdisaffection explored on the final Bayonets album Driver, but they’re rendered as both intimate and shared. Theloneliness inherent of “Trade All the Lights” is double-edged in that regardthrough the vocal accompaniment of new country darling Lydia Loveless “” thefeelings are both internalized and empathetic.
As a country record, it rarely dips its toes into the realmof the classics, though “Miss You Like Crazy” wouldn’t sound out of place onGeorge Jones’ “Wine Colored Roses”. Instead, it’s as astute hybrid of BigStar-style power-pop guitar, much of which is supplied by the deft hand ofRoseland’s Tommy Scifres, and the Jayhawks’s graceful vision of Americana. GregHerndon’s layer of church organ fades away on “Monday” to reveal Caudle’sChilton-esque chord progression, tempered to meet the rigor of a song about,well, Monday. American Aquarium pedal steel player Whit Wright keeps the recordfrom bleeding too far away from its roots by haunting the backgrounds of “Another Night” and “Trade All theLights”.
Yet, it’s Caudle’s pen that breathes life into them, not theother way around. There’s an air of expectancy whether it’s the lone rocker”Bottles & Cans” or the emotional low point “Missing Holidays”. For all themiles put on these songs it may be the overall narrow depth of field that isthe album’s weakness, but it’s not only about having great stories to tell, buthow you tell them.
Caleb Caudle will hold the release show for Paint Another Layer On My Heart at theGarage on Friday with backing from Amigo.