Carson McHone returned with her third album Still Life on 23rd February. The record, which was released on Merge Records in the US and Loose Music in the UK and Europe, builds on the sound of her 2018 album Carousel and is a great display of her writing and vocal talents.
Produced by Daniel Romano, the album is beautifully arranged and the track order works equally so.
The first track on the record – Hawks Don’t Share – is a great way to ease you in. Whilst the most rock-like song – if you don’t count the end of Still Life – it contains much of her sound and mixes in a bit of the Rolling Stones for those not familiar with Carson’s work.
With the title track up next, the album starts to move into its retro country sound. Throughout the record, there is a bit of a late seventies/early eighties leaning, which gives it a little extra dimension.
The next few songs, Fingernail Moon, Someone Else and Spoil on the Vine – which has something of Kate Bush about it – are a great vehicle for Carson’s guitar playing.
The mix of slow, soft songs, with more rockier-sounding ones throughout the record keep your attention. The use of piano and strings on Sweet Magnolia, and its placement in the middle of the order, shows a great deal of thought has been put into this record – and it has paid off.
There isn’t a weak song on Still Life, and the mix of guitar, strings and piano make for something more than your standard country long-player. The hints of the Rolling Stones, the Eagles – and many other bands/artists that aren’t as obvious – are well-placed and only serve to strengthen the album as a whole.