Emmylou Harris, Dr. John… Adam Carroll? At only 42, Carroll might seem an unlikely candidate to make the list of recent all-star Tribute treatments, but the Texas singer/songwriter has had such a powerful impact on his musician friends, they just couldn’t wait another year. In his home state of Texas, he’s long been compared to the best of ‘em, from John Prine and Townes Van Zandt to Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, so a group of talented admirers—including James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Band of Heathens, Slaid Cleaves and Terri Hendrix– got together to add their spin on Carroll’s songs and hopefully put the brilliant wordsmith on the larger map. Their efforts turned into Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll, due out October 28th on Austin’s Eight30Records. Today, Elmore is excited to announce that we’re exclusively streaming the album in advance of its release.
“Adam’s influenced all his songwriter friends,” notes Jamie Lin Wilson, who covers “Hi-Fi Love.” “Everyone has a song they wrote after listening to an Adam Carroll song, one where they go, “That’s my Adam Carroll song.” I have a song called “Oh Alice” and I channel my inner Adam Carroll every time I play it. He’s kinda like the Mitch Hedberg of the folk scene. All comedians at some point do a Mitch Hedberg move and all of us at some point in our shows do an Adam Carroll move.”
Through all 15 covers, Carroll’s remarkable knack for creating stunning, visceral portraits of everyday Americans shines through, from the titular character of the ballad, “Errol’s Song,” who is a “father, a farmer, a hunter, and he talks to the ducks and the geese and the blind… and lives by the graveyard of the rusted combines,” to the lovable “tie-dyed brain fried misfits” of the foot-stomping, harmonica driven “Red Bandana Blues,” to Bob, the “Karaoke Cowboy,” who becomes a star once a week at the Ramada bar.
Each singer lovingly interprets Carroll’s heartfelt tributes to the small, vivid moments of life, and it’s easy to run the gamut of emotions listening to Highway Prayer, so it’s best to sit back, turn the volume up and let yourself laugh, cry and embrace those chills running down your spine.
“Adam Carroll is East Texas’ own Shakespeare of song,” Tim Easton, who performs “Black Flag Blues,” says. “Listen and learn, people. Listen for the details that make us human. Learn how to write about a culture that you are fascinated with. Find the details in behavior that make us all sympathize. His songs belong in Texan and Bayou anthropology courses, but mostly they should belong to your car stereo speakers.”
Get in on the big secret and stream Highway Prayer below. You can pre-order the album, out October 28th, here.