A Review of the CD
"When I Go"
by Dave Carter with Tracy Grammer

"When I Go"
by Dave Carter with Tracy Grammer

Copyright 1998, Dave Carter
#140, 25 NW 23rd Pl., Suite 6
Portland, OR 97210
ph: (503)228-2319
fax: (503)236-5272

This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 12/98
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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The most inventive, intoxicating, and consistently entertaining release of the year is this one, "When I Go," with Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer. From first cut to last, you're not quite sure where you've been transported to but, believe me, it ain't anything like Kansas.

From the opening last will and testament-like "When I Go" to the haunting concluding "Elvis Presley," Carter's lyrics are mesmerizing and always encased in a compelling musical setting. His wit is razor sharp and the clusters of words he summons from his imagination to form his lyrics grip the listener line by line by line. With banjo backing, he opens "When I Go" with:

Later on, Carter sings: It's as if Carter is filling us in on a long-missing chapter of the Book of Revelations--and that's only song one!

"Don't Tread On Me" a talking blues tune similar in style and containing a reference to Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" comes off simultaneously like a poke at and a coat of arms for the right wing militia movement. Carter snarls:

Continuing on: "Annie's Lover" is a charming tune evoking a colorful landscape while "Grand Prairie TX Homesick Blues" provides a graphic portrait of a misplaced, downtrodden soul finding himself just biding time in the employ of the local Burger King until St. Peter calls him home. Carter finishes the song with: Grammer's sweet violin and harmonies with Carter are the highlights on "Kate and the Ghost of Lost Love." Carter begins: Grammer answers with: Carter's ability to express brokenheartedness so literately is just way above the usual standard.

In "The River, Where She Sleeps" and "Lancelot," Carter recommences with his marvelous story-telling. In "Lancelot," he sings:

He continues: He closes with: Whew.

The subtle and quiet "Frank To Valentino" is an effective take on the identities sometimes assumed in order to cope with life. Carter

The young protagonist enters a romantic relationship that eventually sours and he ends up resorting to growing out his sideburns, wearing platform shoes and heading to Reno.

The tune finishes with:

The weeper "Elvis Presley" is the last tune and every time Carter moans the part of the chorus "throw out the lifeline, throw out the lifeline, 'cause somebody's driftin away", the heart breaks.

There isn't a weak cut on this release, an amazing feat considering the filler artists sometimes include in order to reach an acceptable number of songs on a CD. Even the trucker tune "Little Liza Jane" is so uniquely presented, wrapped in incandescent lyrics, and Grammer's touch on the violin, that the listener becomes riveted to find out what happens next.

Carter has a gift for presenting simple characters and events cloaked in exquisite and imaginative metaphysical madness. His banjo and guitar playing and Grammer's harmonies and touching craftsmanship on the violin amplify the effect of each composition in which they appear.

Amazing enough, this CD, except for "Frank To Valentino" was recorded in Tracy Grammer's kitchen! Carter supplies lead vocals, guitar, banjo and bass while Grammer supplies vocals, marvelous violin work, mandolin and guitar. Eric Park adds harmonica and accordian to the recording. Carter, now residing in Oregon but originally from the Lone Star State, retains some Texas twang in his voice and it only adds another delightful component to the texture of this offering.

There's only 40 or so minutes on this release but it seems as if an 800-page novel has been consumed after listening to it. Carter and Grammer should offer a money back guarantee to all purchasers of this CD. They need not worry about any refunds--it's that good. Hell, it's great.

Track List:

All songs written by Dave Carter.

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