Preview Aurora by Case Garrett.
Aurora by Case Garrett
The collection of songs on Case Garrett’s debut album Aurora offers a clear-eyed look at the personal cost of addiction, delivered in disarmingly wry observations and swaggering roadhouse country music.
The music on this album is traditional country, in structure and arrangement, but it never feels hackneyed, thanks to Garrett’s sharp writing. The first song on the album, What Can I Say, is a great example. The song’s narrator brags about his skill as the life of the party while the band romps along, dobro, fiddle and electric guitar sliding in and out with twangy fills.
What can I say, I’m just good company.
Don’t know how to have a bad time, can’t you see.
What can I say to those hearts I left behind,
The devil’s got me on speed dial, calls all the time
It's a memorable tune, well-played. The solid musicianship throughout this album is definitely one of its pleasures. Garrett plays keyboard and guitar himself, and he draws on a talented cast of friends, Nashville musicians and a New York session guitarist. Despite the pick-up nature of the group, the band sounds tight and they play with gusto. You may hear a bit of early Jimmy Buffett in Garrett’s voice and in the humor of some of his lyrics.
By all accounts, the songs on Aurora are somewhat autobiographical and none more so than Long Way Down, one of the slower, sadder country songs you will ever hear. Its lyrics detail the losses of alcoholism, including deaths and the regret of being pegged as a drunkard by a young son. In talking about his past in interviews, Garrett has said that both his brother and sister died from the effects of alcohol abuse and that he nearly died himself.
Maybe there’s a heaven, maybe there ain’t;
I sure can tell you about hell.
It’s looking in the eye of a too-young child
With too many sad stories to tell.
The remainder of the album mixes the sadness of looking back at “wasted years,” as Garrett describes them, with tongue-in-cheek humor and lively music that will have you humming along. The Thought of You is a real stand-out. As a stately country two-step unreels, Garrett narrates an imaginary phone call to a former one-night stand. “You see, I was thinking you might be kinda like me: kinda tired, kinda drunk and all alone,” Garrett sings, before winding up to a proposition that is breath-taking in its honest desperation.
“What ya think about screwing? It don’t have to last very long,
I was outdoors just having a smoke when the thought of you hit me strong.”
The album also includes a cover of J.J. Cale’s Call Me The Breeze that gives the song’s shuffling beat a deep mountain twang with a healthy dose of banjo and dobro. Some fine back-up singing provides a blues flavoring to the track, which rocks with a deep-woods vibe.
The only cause for complaint with Aurora is its brevity. The album is practically EP length. Its eight tracks clock in at 33 minutes and that includes one tune (Going Down to Mobile) that is remixed in classic Americana style with crunchy electric guitars in place of the mandolin and dobro that figure so heavily in the first version. (But both versions work well.)
This is an excellent first album, just the same. When the last song fades away, Chase Garrett leaves you wanting more.