taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs

Caleb Caudle & the bayonets Snake River Canyon

When Caleb Caudle penned his debut effort Red Bank Road as a 19-yearold, he had succeeded in creating one of those Americana albums that sounded like a broad-brushed examination of the genre as a whole. Drawing on inspiration from classics like John Hiatt’s Walk On and Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s Spinning Around the Sun, it was timeless in nature because of its familiarity. It was basically Caudle, an acoustic guitar and the sporadic swath of pedal steel tugging at the eardrums of even the most steadfast Americana buff. His follow-up Stay On came with great expectations, though his inclusion of a full band, the Bayonets, left some reason for caution. His affective, chameleonic voice carried a record that occasionally labored amidst monotonous melodies — often the effect of transplanting the same ethos of an acoustic album into an electric one. With Caudle & the Bayonets’ newest offering Snake River Canyon, he’s successfully fused the intimacy of the solo album with the electricity and energy of the full-band dynamic. Recorded between fall 2009 and early spring 2010 at Echo Mountain Studios in Asheville, Snake River

Canyon is pure emotional energy with a decidedly more evolved sense of melody. Some of that credit goes to producer by Jon Ashley, whose experience with the Avett Brothers and Band of Horses is evidence of his highly developed sense of detail. The slow build of opener “So Gone” sets the pace and the album simply takes off from there. The subtle ambiance lent by the guest keyboardist Ryan Monroe of Band of Horses provides the kind of anchor needed to balance the thrashing drums of Chad Newsome and reverberating guitar of Phillip Pledger. Not to harp on the gainful presence of Monroe, but his subtle excellence is the hallmark of great songs on this record like “Skeleton Tree” and “Throw Me to the Wolves.” Think of what Bo Koster lends to My Morning Jacket’s Z for an idea. Though they still tend to depend on guitar hooks a little too much as filler on “Corner” and “Moonlight Mile,” Caudle and the Bayonets have successfully married the best of both previous records for one definitive work.


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