Caudill is a songwriter who also plays a mean bass and clawhammer banjo. She demonstrates her stuff on this project that’s surrounded by a who’s who of pickers. She is currently working in Nashville and has a sense of style that is unique and beyond categorization. Caudill’s diversity of musical influences is explained by her being a recipient of a Berklee College of Music scholarship. Her songs draw from sources in old-time to jazz. From the simple mountain/folk sound of the title-track to the more subtle “Around Town” (a jazz waltz), her songs are constructed with an architect’s touch so that each is an edifice to an idea.
We get a solid feeling of the road with “Living On The Countryside.” It is not towns that get passed by, but a time in life. The last track is spiritual in nature, not necessarily Christian but perhaps more Zen or Taoist. It’s also a duet with Caudill and her producer, Jim Hurst, who sings harmony on the chorus. His guitar weaves in and out of her banjo, while her bass lays down a solid grounding. Ah, the beauty of overdubbing and simplicity.
The list of musicians on this project would take a page from the Nashville phone book to list (if they still have one) and includes David Grier, Joe Walsh, Bill Conteras, Mark Wingate, and a host more. All have brought their A-game, and this recording hums with an excitement in the crisp arrangements that lift each song. The colors and timbre of the music change from track to track and within the songs themselves. The darkness of a mountain shadow falls across “Franklin County,” while “Bonnie The Engineer” turns on traditional as it lays new track. “Pork Pie Hat” is a blues that is not melancholy, and “Sugarloaf Mountain” sounds like a sunny day.
Jim Hurst did a first-rate job of production for this young writer’s fine work. If you like your music sophisticated, fun, and honest, you need look no further. This is one fine outing. Some top bands have already found her material. We’ll be hearing a lot more from this fine songwriter in the future. (www.ashleighcaudill.com)RCB