Friday, January 31, 2014

Review: Carrington McDuffie - Only An Angel

Every so often, we’re fortunate enough to run into those people who seem to have skipped in line as the good Lord was doling out gifts and received a double measure. Free spirit Carrington McDuffie is such an artist, engaging in songwriting at the tender age of thirteen before heading off to Johns Hopkins University for a degree in English with a concentration in poetry. She fulfilled her wanderlust by traveling abroad in Europe before returning to the States and completing her degree at Boston University.

Then it was off to New York City for this intrepid performer where she found herself taken in by a fly-by-night vaudeville troupe where she sang and danced, diversifying her palette even more. Trips to the West Indies followed along with experiments in Venice Beach, which eventually led her to a dual life within Los Angeles and Seattle.  There she began establishing herself as a spoken word performer before publishing a book of poetry and engaging in a promising career in voice acting, voicing characters within World of Warcraft and Honey West alongside scoring solid reviews for her narration of audiobook titles.
And it was yet another new journey, this time to Austin, Texas, that truly drew the artist back into her music as she became immersed and smitten by the sounds of Americana. And drawing her poetic background together with those newfound loves has resulted in the artist’s debut EP, Only An Angel.

Keeping with those poetic sensibilities, McDuffie’s songwriting through these six tracks seems more intent upon conjuring emotion, drawing listeners into deeper places of feeling, rather than going the more traditional folk route of telling stories and offering a narrative. It’s a key point to Only An Angel and the artist pulls it off well, offering up smoldering notes of sensuality on tracks like “Hot Sun of the Summer” and hints of adventure and playfulness on “Stand Below Heaven.”
Sonically, her music reflects her diverse lifestyle as well, drawing from her plethora of travels to create a sound that is at once warm and familiar while still new and intriguing. “Hot Sun of the Summer” is a moodier arrangement, understated guitar and heavy percussive notes building the tension while “Fly Away” samples from a Tejano template, the Latin rhythms succinctly framing the lighthearted vocal and lyric. Of course, “My Favorite Place in Texas” is through and through Americana, rich swells of steel guitar accompanying rhythmic acoustic guitar and perfect pops of percussion.

The result is ultimately a promising release from an immensely talented artist in Carrington McDuffie. Throughout these six tracks, McDuffie manages to conjure six solid Americana-flavored tracks that stay true to the genre while allowing the artist’s signature voice to shine through her lyrics and compositions. It’s an all in all success and will no doubt prove to be music to the ears on many an Americana lover.