Album Reviews

Caroline Cotter

Home On The River

Artist:     Caroline Cotter

Album:     Home On The River

Label:     Self Released

Release Date:     2.9.2018


Since her Back On The Train debut a decade ago, travel-inspired songstress Caroline Cotter has been traversing the world by foot, bicycle, trains, planes and automobiles; Seeking, finding, following her path and searching, baring, sharing her soul, and finally arranging and recording her wonderful, lusty, wanderlust-ful results. She’s come a long way, baby!

For her eighth album and second-straight national release, Home By The River, Cotter stretches farther out and dives deeper within to unveil a treasure trove of nine personal yet universal love songs. A lyrical litany of “I don’t want…” verses precede Cotter’s longing for some “Piece Of Mind” on the inviting opening opus. But it’s her wonderful, wordless, singing-in-tongues “ooo/oooh/wooo/whooooa” choruses that captivate. (A device she uses efficiently, effectively, with a style R.E.M.iniscent of Michael Stipe, Natalie Merchant, Yoko Ono, even James Brown: You don’t know what they’re saying but you know what they mean!)

Clever, cryptic “1 4 3” reminds us that true love is ageless, timeless, ever-present and, like the road, goes on forever. The magical, mystical, deliciously dark “Eternal Light” might be about transition, metamorphosis, rapture, birth, death, Heaven, Hell, or all or none of the above. You decide. I know what she’s saying but I don’t know she means.

Ebullient, flowing, reeling, rollin’ and tumblin’ folk boat-rocker “Can’t Stop The Waves” is swell. It showcases Cotter’s exquisite, buoyant, soaring soprano, tighter-than-taut harmonies, and a brilliant vocal crescendo/diminuendo: from tentative, through a reckless-ecstasy climax to après-bodysurfing blissfulness. Whew! [Or was that just my phantasm?] Cotter’s closing a capella cover of Woody and Arlo Guthrie’s “My Peace” is simply gorgeous; a naked, bold, apropos coda to this endearing, sumptuous CD. [Next stop “Woodyfest?”]

No single song stands out because each is singularly outstanding. From Jeff Oehler (co-producer with Cotter) and the Sentimentals band: M.C. Hansen (electric guitar), Nikolaj Wolf (bass), Jacob Chano (drums and all on backing vox) to Jefferson Hamer (electric guitar, mandolin, vox), Rob Morse (bass), Tony Spina (drums), Annabelle Chvostek (fiddle, vox), Putnam Smith (fretless banjo), Gene Baker (Hammond organ) and Redia Spada (backing vocals) all involved played their precise parts perfectly. Especially those lush, plush, flush harmonies on Cotter’s splendid paternal paean “When I Think Of You!”

Like Dorothy and other beautiful dreamers before her, Caroline has learned for herself that journeys within—or at least closer to home, where the heart is—can be most revealing and rewarding. And that there’s no place like home on the river!

—Dennis McDoNoUgh!

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