Artist: Carson McHone
Album: Goodluck Man
Label: Good Horse Records
Genre: Traditional country, Honky tonk
For this week’s review, we go to Austin and take it back a couple of years to 2015 when Carson McHone released her debut album, Goodluck Man. A singer/songwriter since high school, McHone bridges the line between Country and Americana beautifully. In 2013 she released a self-titled EP which she toured nationally as well as internationally to promote. She’s shared stages with Vince Gill, Jerry Jeff Walker, Shakey Graves, and Gary Clark Jr., to name a few. McHone was featured on Ray Wylie Hubbard’s 2015 song “Chick Singer Badass Rockin’ and says she “writes songs like her life depends on it.” She is also featured on Mike and The Moonpies 2015 release, Mockingbird, where they recorded a duet and was featured on the Irish Live Music Series ‘Other Voices’, which was filmed in Austin at Arlyn Studios as well. Excitingly, Rolling Stone Magazine named her one of “Ten New Country Artists You Need To Know” in August of 2017, and she played at both the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Americana Music Festival that same year. I suppose you could say the girl’s been busy.
Goodluck Man was recorded in Nashville and produced by Mike McCarthy (Heartless Bastards, Patty Griffin). McHone wanted to make a live record, so that’s exactly what they did. She and her band set up and played the whole record live. I need to take a moment to commend her on that; putting any talent out there for exactly what it is is absolutely terrifying. This speaks volumes to the kind of artist she is.
McHone’s style of songwriting has a very vintage feel to it, as does the production. Most of her songs came from the two-year residency at the White Horse Saloon in Austin, but there’s one, the album opener “Poet,” that comes from the very beginning of her songwriter career. She wrote this song about isolation and disconnection back in high school while she was taking a songwriting class. “Our only assignment was we had to write a song every week and perform it for the class. That was when I first started playing guitar and writing songs,” she tells The Texas Music Scene. “It was a song I hadn’t played in a while, and I came back to and brought it to the full band and really loved revisiting it. I think it’s a nice opener to the record. It sort of rides that Americana line.” I completely agree with her there. It shows you just where she came from, and how strong of a songwriter she was—even then.
The atmosphere of the album is so charming; you can almost see her and the band set up and playing the music for exactly what it is. Sheer genius. There’s a couple of up-tempo honky tonk songs in there, specifically, “Maybe They’re Just Really Good Friends,” my personal favourite, and the reason I wanted to give her album a review in the first place. She wrote this song because she couldn’t get the title phrase out of her head, and now I can’t get it out of mine. It’s quite a comical song about denial and doubt. Maybe they’re just friends, maybe they’re not, but that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself. It’s a song before it’s time, something You might have heard back in the 80s from your favourite country lady.
There really is something for everyone on this album. If not you’re going for the Waylon Jennings style bop of “GTDB (Good Timin’ Daddy Blues),” all your singer/songwriter needs can be met with “Bouquet,” and “City Cry.” Heck, you’ll even find a beautiful waltz!
Let’s not forget to mention how incredibly unique her voice is either. It’s very light, airy, and twangy, with little catches and clicks. It’s very different from the powerhouse vocals we so often hear from women. It makes this gal who also has a very light and airy voice with all kinds of catches and clicks very happy to hear that not everyone needs to belt out a twelve-second note to make a statement.