Friday, April 30, 2010

Carrie Rodriguez (The Interview)

Austin-based singer-songwriter-fiddler Carrie Rodriguez has dazzled us over the years with her varying talents, all of which, in the way that she delivers them, can be described as uncommon. You probably know her best for her fiddle, or her work with Chip Taylor or Alejandro Escovedo. But whatever the landscape, it's usually not all about Rodriguez herself; she's not one to chase the spotlight.

And her new album, Love & Circumstance, a collection of 12 cover songs by artists like Lucinda Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Hank Williams, and Richard Thompson, continues Rodriguez's pattern of letting us in on what has inspired her over the years. Once again, it's her voice I can't stop listening to.

If you're not familiar with Rodriguez's work, Love & Circumstance, which was released on April 13th, is a wonderful place to start. It's warm and striking. And it's as real of a collection of tunes that you'll find. Please don't let this one slip past your ears.

We recently had a chance to catch up with Carrie over e-mail before her tour that begins again in May.

1. Take us through the recording process of Love & Circumstance. What was the most difficult thing about settling on these 12 songs?

Lee Townsend (the kick ass producer that worked with me on this project) and I did plenty of agonizing over which tunes to include, but in the end I think the songs decided for themselves. The ones that made it to the record were the ones that came the most naturally for me to sing and play. In fact, I feel so connected to this group of tunes, that sometimes I forget that I didn't write them. :)

2. Lucinda Williams' "Steal Your Love" has always been a favorite of mine, and your version is striking. Can you talk a little bit about what that song means to you?

"Did they lay down a law, and lock up your heart? I'm gonna have to steal your love"...the first line of that tune is so gorgeous. It immediately draws you in to a place where most of us have probably been. Frustrated by your partner's (or who you wish was your partner's) wall they've put up...and hellbent on getting past it.

How many love songs do you know that include knives, drugs, and guns? Lucinda is the coolest.

3. What's it like to hear someone like Richard Thompson call your cover of "Waltzing's For Dreamers" "heartfelt and impassioned?"

An honor and a relief! My worst fear is that I don't do one of these precious tunes justice...

4. Tell us a little bit about your upcoming tour. What can fans expect of these shows?

Our May tour starts in Minnesota and winds around the Midwest. I've got the full band out with me: elec and acoustic guitar, pedal steel guitar, upright bass, and drums. Our stage set up looks like a music store. Lots of instruments and fancy pedal boards....The sound is big and rockin', but we usually break things down in the middle of the set and do a few intimate numbers.

5. Finally, your advice for any artist out there who is thinking about recording a covers album?

My advice is to choose the songs closest to your heart, then spend a lot of alone time with them. I didn't listen to the original recordings of these tunes for about a year leading up to recording the album...That way the songs have a chance to evolve into something that is more your own.

Carrie Rodriguez tour dates can be found here.

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