As time goes by, I find that it becomes harder and harder to find quality storytellers in music. Barton Carroll is one of the few exceptions. After touring and recording with Crooked Fingers, Carroll decided to develop his solo career with his second album, Love & War. With guitar in hand, Carroll delicately crafts engaging stories through a diverse musical array of acoustic and electric guitar styles. From teenage war refugees to mothers in times of financial depression, Carroll often uses characters from the past as a tool for musical creation. With aged vocals that are comparable to Nick Cave, Carroll uses all of his skills to create extremely memorable songs.
‘Cat On A Bench’ is one of Carroll’s more electrical-oriented songs, with a striking electric violin slowly weeping behind a jagged electric guitar. As one of the catchier and more accessible songs on the album, Carroll creates the song as a masterful depiction of isolation and weariness, comparing a lonely cat stranded in the middle of the ocean to human isolation. ‘Scorched Earth’ is touched by a frail piano, being one of the most emotional on the album. Carroll is young, though his vocals and musical intellect sound like a musical legend in his late 60s. “Can I sing you to sleep, can I woo you to bed?” Carroll implores desperately, “would you put your hands on me, out of mercy?” ‘Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still’ is his most direct and simplistic, though it is also the most vivid out of the three. Telling the tale of a lost love over is something that Carroll does seemingly well. A sole acoustic guitar starts this one off, until some very dramatic Southern strings complement it beautifully. Barton Carroll is one of the most talented folk artists I’ve heard in some time, so I recommend Love & War to the fullest extent.