Austin360 On The Record: Bill Carter, Whitney Rose, Caroline Says


Bill Carter, self-titled (Forty Below). Not your typical new-material release, this 10-song collection is more akin to a songwriter’s resume, featuring fresh readings of high points from Carter’s long and prolific writing career. It’s also a true solo album: Carter played and sang every single thing on the record, working at E.A.R. Studios in East Austin with engineer James Stevens. The arrangements mostly are stripped down to basics of acoustic guitar and vocals, with occasional accents of rhythm and harmonica. That puts the spotlight squarely on the songwriting, and the results are a compelling reminder that Carter is one of the best American-roots tunesmiths Austin has ever produced. The versions here of “Crossfire” (a Stevie Ray Vaughan hit), “Why Get Up?” (a Fabulous Thunderbirds staple) and “Richest Man” (rendered wondrously by Toni Price on her first album) bring each of those songs back to their core. Other tunes appeared on previous Carter solo albums and collaborative or one-off projects. All but two were co-written with his wife Ruth Ellsworth Carter; native-Texan Nashville ace Gary Nicholson and roots-rock mainstay Randy Weeks also turn up in the writing credits. Playing Oct. 25 at Antone’s. Here’s the video for an earlier version of the track “Fire on the Wire” that appeared on Carter’s 2-13 album “Unknown”:

Whitney Rose, “Rule 62” (Six Shooter). The Canadian country singer-songwriter who moved to Austin last fall and released an EP in January follows with a full-length release that ups the ante on her promising future. Recorded in Nashville with Mavericks leader Raul Malo and Niko Bolas co-producing, “Rule 62” features an A-list cast of musicians including guitarist Kenny Vaughan (Marty Stuart, Lucinda Williams) and keyboardist Jen Gunderman (Sheryl Crow, Jayhawks). It’s the songs that are the focus here, though, from the classic-sounding heartbreak ballad “You Never Cross My Mind” to the R&B-inspired swing of “Can’t Stop Shakin’” to a brilliantly conceived twist in the story-song “Trucker’s Funeral.” Nine songs here are Rose originals, and the two covers of songs by lesser-known artists are gems that show her eye for good material: Joseph K. New’s “Tied to the Wheel,” recorded in 2001 by Austin guitar great Bill Kirchen, is a gorgeously melodic lonesome-trucker tune, and Ontario songwriter Carol MacQuarrie’s “You’re a Mess” recalls the pure-pop appeal of the ’60s girl-group era. Release show Oct. 5 at Continental Club; also playing Oct. 7 at Hill Country Galleria. Here’s the video for the track “Better to My Baby”:


Caroline Says, “50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong” (Western Vinyl). Issued only on cassette in 2014, this enchanting indie-pop record has recently got a new lease on life when noted indie label Western Vinyl gave it a wider release in August. The quartet is led by songwriter Caroline Sallee, who recorded these songs in Alabama before moving to Austin. The album’s 11 songs are beautifully conceived, arranged and sung; Sallee’s voice hauntingly swirls around chiming guitars and echoing keyboards; it’s easy to become immersed in her dreamlike soundscapes. The band is working on a new record tentatively set for release early next year. Playing Oct. 5 at Barracuda. Here’s the video for the song “I Think I’m Alone Now”:


  • OCT. 20: Willie, Lukas & Micah Nelson, “Willie and the Boys: Willie’s Stash, Vol. 2” (Legacy).
  • OCT. 20: Porter & the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes, “Don’t Go Baby, It’s Gonna Get Weird Without You” (Cornelius Chapel), release show Oct. 21 at Stay Gold.
  • OCT. 20: Tommy Howard, “Storybook” (Destiny), release show Oct. 22 at Elephant Room.
  • NOV. 1: Brian Pounds, “Southern Writer,” release show Nov. 16 at Cactus Cafe.
  • NOV. 3: Drew Kennedy, “At Home in the Big Lonesome,” playing Dec. 12 at Gruene Hall.
  • NOV. 17: Reveleros, self-titled, release show Nov. 17 at Good Shepherd on the Hill.

Author: Peter Blackstock

Music writer for the Austin American-Statesman and Twitter: @Blackstock360

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