Published Feb 24, 2016Before recording his third record, Winston-Salem native Caleb Caudle moved home from New Orleans, kicked the bottle and hunkered down to study early Randy Travis and 1980s-era Merle Haggard. All three influences colour Carolina Ghost, Caudle's exceptional (and sure to be his breakthrough) new album. Already a blinking light on the radar screens of most fans of non-mainstream country music, Caudle is poised to find new and wider audiences with this tightly constructed collection of laid-back songs.
As comfortable as an old hoodie, Caudle's record (like Sam Outlaw's, with whom Caudle shares more than a passing similarity) may be dismissed by some as backward-looking, but Caudle reminds us, in those familiar musical tropes — the Everly Brothers harmonies, the mournful pedal steel licks, the steady tap of the cross stick — there are still tales to tell. From the nod to "Grievous Angel" that opens the record (and the terrific sing-along of lead track "Gotta Be") to the dreamy banjo-driven album closer "The Reddest Rose," each song here speaks with a voice you'll recognize, one that's even saying things you've heard before, but one that's nevertheless as welcome as an old friend. (Universal)