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Carl Creighton - Minnesota Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7.5
Musicianship 7.5
Lyrics 7.75
Production 7.25
Creativity 7.5
Lasting Value 7.5
Reviewer Tilt 7.75
Final Verdict: 75%
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Carl Creighton - Minnesota

Reviewed by: Susan Frances (09/29/08)
Carl Creighton - Minnesota
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: April 2008

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Carl Creighton seems like a one-man team on his latest recording Minnesota, but in fact the man relies on a handful of musicians who all read from the same page as him, which is quite a feat. Creighton and his crew created an album that makes you feel like you are in the middle of Montana's Great Plains watching the sun go down and the night sky go up as the evening stars begin to turn on giving you the open air to ruminate over changes that are going on in your life. For Creighton, the general theme of the album is dealing with a break up, which suffuses the tracks in shades of melancholy and feeling wounded, but not all is dark and gloomy. There is an underlying spirit that is reticent about finding the strength to bounce back. Though most of the album is frocked in mellow folksy tones, the music produces an aura which allows listeners to take in the lyrics and reflect over them and relating Creighton’s words to their own lives.

The gentle embers of Creighton’s piano keys in “Smoking is Ugly,” “Baby’s Breath” and the title track are wardrobe in calmly moving harmonies as vocalist Mimi Lavalley sings backup verses in “Baby’s Breath” and vocalist Erin Regan sings backup on the title track. Many songs such as “Erin” and “El Paso” have a country folk primer wrapped in lacy drum rolls played by Brant Benefield and cottony plush bass lines from Charles Barthelemy, but there are a few numbers which are propelled by upswings in the guitar strokes from Creighton like in “Detrius” and “Live Tonight” as Debe Dalton injects some jubilant banjo bowings. Dalton gives melodies a cozy country folk hue, while violinist Jeffrey Young plants pacifying silhouettes moving across “Be My Best Friend” and “Erin” as the rocking chair sway of the rhythms enhances the subdued state of the song.

Creighton’s lyrics gravitate to feeling wounded and working to bounce back. He makes a connection between a broken light bulb and a broken heart in the track “Light Bulb” as the chorus part resounds, “Wishing I knew the light bulb’s secret ’cause when my heart brings bloods to the lungs / And the lungs bring air to the brain / Well the brain just keeps thinking about dying.” The organ dirge that he plays through “Light Bulb” brandishes a sorrowful mist through the tune, and the soft swirling harmonica notes that his brother Craig plays in the opening of the title track clings to a cloud of hope over the solemn piano keys.

Though much of the album brings the listener to the brink of falling into Creighton’s tears, there is also a sense of confidence in the songs that give the melodies a sturdy backbone and good stature. The music seems uncomplicated and accessible for any high school student to pick up a guitar and start playing. As much as these songs represent Carl Creighton, they also avail themselves to other people’s lives and make it an album that describes conditions which are universally felt.

Recommended if you like: Daniel Powter, Ray Montagne, Dar Williams, Amos Lee

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