CarLeans’ new “Forgotten Pages” album kicks off national campaign
Published February 21. 2018 2:22PM
By Rick Koster Day staff writer
For years Niantic's Jim Carpenter has been one of the finest and most prolific Americana songwriters around. With the Hoolios and the CarLeans, solo or in any of a variety of collaborations, and writing/producing for other artists, Carpenter has served up a steady catalog of incredible tunes.
It's sort of odd, then, to realize that Carpenter still had a bunch of stellar, unused material. Happily, nine of those songs now serve as the primary source material on a new album by The CarLeans — appropriately called "Forgotten Pages.
The warm chemistry that flows through the album (and onstage) complements what is indeed a special group of songs. Carpenter has a sorcerer's ability to provided literature-worthy narratives in three-to-four-minute compositions that dazzle with melody and structure. As always, they hit the listener in various ways for various reasons, but "Pages" tunes like "Papa's Shine," "Too Little Too Late," "But for the Loneliness" and "Lovers Only Waltz" — the song you'll now wish had played at your wedding — are just world-class. And that's still true of "He Gave Her Roses," the only Carpenter song on the record that has surfaced previously. The CarLeans' take, with MacLean's lovely lead vocal, spins the piece in a dramatic fashion. Credit Carpenter for realizing the alchemical components of The Carleans. In the trio, Carpenter's heart-weary voice blends or alternates with the MacLean sister's angel-ascending voice. Instrumentally, Malbaurn's fluid and velvet-toned standup bass lines interlock with Carpenter's distinct guitar voicings.
After the release party, the CarLeans leave on a short but strategic tour through the south, including stops in musical Meccas like Nashville, Memphis and Austin. It's just the latest in a series of similar junkets wherein the trio has expanded their base beyond New England — and "strategic" is indeed the operative word. While the band is certainly proud of their quick ascension in the local music scene, the two-year-old act aims to build a sustained career on the national roots music scene. "We've thought a lot about this," Malbaurn says. "One new twist is that, in terms of gigs, we're trying to emphasize quality over quantity. Obviously, we want to establish a presence in places like Nashville and Memphis, and Jim's certainly spent a lot of time in Nashville. Then we're hitting Austin for the first time, getting our feet wet, and we consciously timed it to be there just before the madness of (the South by Southwest Festival). We should make some good contacts there."
'Singer-songwriters Jim Carpenter and Sarah MacLean of The CarLeans write authentic, moving songs that can lift you up, make you cry your heart out, fill you with joy, or deepen your understanding of the world as they poetically illuminate the human experience.' — Sue Menhart, Soundwaves Magazine June 2016
'The CarLean's recently released album (Drowning Moon) paints a picture of the pain and joy of summer love . . . (It) is probably Connecticut's most honest and heartfelt country-folk album of the year.' — Andrew Krebs, Soundwaves Magazine July 2016