Carrie Newcomer has been creating her unique brand of folk-pop for over 30 years now. First as a member of Stone Soup and since the early 1990s as a solo artist, she has accumulated an impressive catalogue of original material.
Just as important as her music are her charitable contributions and her role as spokesperson for social justice. During the last several years she has represented the U.S. State Department as a cultural ambassador to such countries as India and Kenya.
Since 1993 she has released a dozen albums. Her latest, Kindred Spirits: A Collection, is a compilation which includes previously released tracks from her studio albums, two songs from her anti-hunger benefit project, a couple of live tracks, and two new songs. If you have not been exposed to her music, this disc will serve as a fine introduction.
Newcomer has an alto voice to die for and is an adept storyteller who is able to to provide memorable melodies for her lyrics. Her music has always had a spiritual side without being connected to any organized religion. While her music is thoughtful and mystic in places, underlying it all is a sense of hope and ultimately grace.
One of her talents is taking the ordinary and making it extraordinary through her incisive lyrics. “Geodes,” “I Believe,” and “Holy as a Day Is Spent” find her singing about God, faith, laundry, and muddy boots.
Two duets are highlights. “Before and After” finds her joining voices with Mary Chapin Carpenter as they explore the small things of life that can be so important. Alison Krauss brings her voice to the mix on “The Gathering of Spirits,” which is an inspirational celebration of life.
“A Long Christmas Dinner” makes its debut. It is a well-crafted story of family life that should resonate with most people. From the early period of her career, songs such as “A Whole Lot of Hope,” “My True Name,” and a live version of “Bare to the Bone” are resurrected and provide insight into the origins of her musical journey.
Carrie Newcomer has never received the commercial success she deserves. Hopefully Kindred Spirits: A Collection will introduce some of her better work to a larger audience as it represents her fusion of the sacred and ordinary.
Article first published as Music Review: Carrie Newcomer – Kindred Spirits: A Collection on Blogcritics.