Carolyn Waters

Carolyn Waters
Count Me In

By Karen Nugent
May 2010

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I met Carolyn Waters at a nearby club one night through an old friend (full disclosure: this friend, Trish English, plays bass on four tracks on this disc). Ms. Waters was watching a rock band with us but graciously offered me a copy of her debut disk without knowing my connection to the Boston Blues Society. While I was fairly certain it would not be a full-fledged blues album, I forged ahead and I'm glad I did.

Her voice is amazing, captivating, compelling—any superlative will fit. I don't believe I have heard such a rich, velvety, and yes—bluesy—voice locally in years. Nor have I heard a voice so full of emotion on some heavy topics, including the powerful “Highway Rain” which is about a woman leaving her child's father: “I heard the news last night from my dear mother / Made my heart stand still. She said 'my child, I'll be leaving your father / I have nothing left inside to feel.'” In an email, Ms. Waters told me the song is based on personal experience, and things told in her family by close female relatives facing the same decisions. “It is probably the most personal (song) on the CD, and I get emotional every time I perform it” she said.

Guess what? All 14 songs are originals: the title track starts the record out, and it ends with a short reprise. Topics range from politics to divorce to the inspirational, and they are all thoughtful. The disc starts out more folksy than bluesy, however, and really has just four blues-like songs, including “Highway Rain.” My favorite is “Generations”, which begins with some mysterious hoo-doo or perhaps African-like percussion and moaning. It reminds me of a real old pre-blues spiritual. Some Koko Taylor-like growls, not easy to do, add to the mood.

“With Style,” a cleverly-written jazz number, seems to be a metaphor for a woman's life with a man via lyrics about hair care products and hairdos. Then there's “Bad Stuff,” featuring Trish, my friend from junior high, and only Trish (with some finger snapping) accompanying Ms. Waters a cappella on this beatnik-like tune. There are some good rhythm and bass lines, even if I am biased.

Ms. Waters, a Philadelphia native who lives in Central Massachusetts, is a relative newcomer to music although she has been singing and storytelling in coffeehouses, restaurants and at open mic sessions for a few years. She said she really started to develop musically at the WUMB-sponsored Summer Acoustic Music Week camp in New Hampshire. Each summer when she returned, people would ask when she was going to make a CD. It is also where she met Trish English, along with some of the many musicians (perhaps 20) on this disc.

All I can say is: Carolyn, make that group into a blues band!

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