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Carlene Carter - Stronger
By: Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

This CD is raw, spirited and just a masterpiece by one of the Carter Family Royalty, Carlene Carter. This has been quite a year for me, lots of great music, but this record really has moved me with its twelve original songs. This part of Carter's life has been a rough road, lots of family deaths, mom (Mother Carter), little sister Rosey Carter, and then the Man in Black, her father-in-law, Johnny Cash.

There are two CD's of this material floating around, this full production disc which was layered track by track, by John Mcfee (Doobie Brother) who also played each instrument on this CD. I'd love to hear the acoustic version produced by Martie Stuart.

"Why Be Blue" really has the feel of a Carter Family song. The vocals are beautiful.

A lot of the songs flat out rock like, "I'm So Cool," neat harmonies. This song has great lead guitar and pedal steel. Carter really lets go with her vocals. Even some electronic effects along with the amazing guitar work of McFee.

This disc was mastered by Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering in Maine. He is known for his rock work with Bryan Adams and many others and is one of the best, aggressive in his mastering approach. Johnny Cash would have loved this CD, it is so original, yet so retro and meets some old time sounds unheard of for years. I love the brutal honesty of her lyrics.

"On To You" has some great slide work with some distortion. "Judgment Day" is mid tempo, about grieving and death, the arrangement has an eerie feel to it. I think it's about the death of Johnny Cash. "Break My Little Heart In Two" is an incredible, bouncy country song with some hot tele pickin', sounds like Albert Lee with John Hughey (I know it's not).

"It Takes One To Know Me" is very country with shimmering guitar music and very emotional, another song that seems to be about Johnny Cash. "Light Of Your Love" is a country rocker, that takes off in a way that is neat with some great harmonies. "Stronger" is a masterpiece, great slow ballad. "What Doesn't Kill Me Makes Me Stronger", a very sad, poignant song about the death of her sister, if you listen to her words, this is so inspired, then she she turns the song and points it at you, "What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger".

Carter is a true artist, one of the torch bearers of the Carter Family tradition. A great recording like this makes me wonder about people who are saying that it's time for a higher quality product for music than the CD. A good CD is great. The trouble is, mastering engineers are making junk, if they kept to the rules, everything would be fine. We do not need another format, records, 8-tracks, cassettes and then CDs. SACDs and DVD CDs didn't work out. Blu Ray disc, apparently Neil Young is putting out his greatest hits in Blu Ray. Well, we shall see, let's just not go back to 8-tracks.

Make sure you catch this one, out of a strong female year, this is a hot listen. 

Click here to order your copy.

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