Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Nov. 16, 2001
Caroline HerringTwilight (Blue Corn) What Caroline Herring does on Twilight, her debut, is nothing new. Simply put, she's making good old-fashioned folk music. Herring's simple melodies and uncomplicated stories, accompanied mostly by acoustic guitars, fiddles, mandolin, and dobro come across with so much vitality, charm, and enthusiasm that Twilight takes on an energy that's truly distinctive and captivating. Herring is a Mississippi native and a relative newcomer to the Austin music scene, but she's managed to round up a stellar group of Texas-based backing musicians, including Peter Rowan, Lloyd Maines, Paul Glasse, Paul Pearcy, Eamon McLoughlin, and producer John Inmon, to help give Twilight a sturdy musical framework. Her brand of folk music is wide-ranging and includes bluegrass, traditional country, and acoustic ballads, while her lyrics reflect Herring's deep Southern roots. It's all remarkably well-done -- a rare feat for any artist, but especially on one's first album. Songs like stirring set opener "Mississippi Snow," the old-timey "Carolina Moon," sweet fiddle-driven "Learning to Drive," and the lonesome twang of "Devil Made a Mess" demonstrate that Herring possesses an admirable amount of talent, both as a songwriter and as a vocalist. She ends the disc with a ragged-but-right take on Roy Acuff's "Wreck On the Highway." It's a sly move that demonstrates how deep Herring's musical roots go, while also shining a knowing light on the fresh spirit she brings to an old-fashioned sound.