Preview Crushed Coins by Caleb Caudle.
Crushed Coins by Caleb Caudle
Caleb Caudle’s eighth album, Crushed Coins, for release on February 23, adds more instruments and with these, a distinctive new dimension to his heartfelt songwriting. He admits making this album has taken him way beyond his comfort zone. The result is a resounding success.
Caudle had already released four albums before quitting his job as a pizza parlour manager to concentrate on music full-time. His next three releases ranged from a very stripped down sound akin to his live show to a pure country album in 2016, Carolina Ghost. Crushed Coins is a step in yet another direction, quite literally. Having got married he and his wife set off across the country visiting various national parks. Their travels took them to LA where he recorded Crushed Coins with more musicians than had featured on previous releases, the whole record produced by Jon Ashley (Band of Horses, War on Drugs).
The result according to Caudle was, if not a concept album, certainly more than a collection of songs. He describes his travels and their result as “light at the end of the tunnel” where he has found “hope in a dark place. It’s about relying on people and things you love”. There’s a lot going on in Crushed Coins. As well as those sentiments, it blends his sweep of influences from a teenage love of The Clash and the Velvet Underground through more obvious ones such as The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Gram Parsons and Merle Haggard. That’s a record store’s worth but it definitely works.
Jon Ashley’s production is immediately evident from the opening bars of the first track, ‘Lost Without You’. A swirling trippy echo introduces Caudle’s relaxed vocals. Combined, the effect is mesmerising and sets up the whole record.
‘NYC in the Rain’ continues this expansive feel, featuring Caudle’s 30th birthday present, a Telecaster, that he plays beautifully. The song makes the city feel every bit as vast as the natural sights he saw on his travels.
‘Headlights’ is perhaps more similar to his previous records but again there are some more perfectly produced instruments. ‘Empty Arms’ adds synthesizer to the vocals that lead into a guitar solo, very far away from the singer-songwriter staple. But again it works. Pedal steel comes on ‘Love That’s Wild’. There is an almost around the camp-fire feel here. We are on our way out west.
The title track does go back to more typical Caudle, with its simpler arrangement. “There’s a train that crushed our coins” seems to be the album’s strap line. My favourite track is ‘Stack of Tomorrows’, “I’m chasing the night sky/I’ll be there by sun rise”, really does evoke images of the parks. The song best demonstrates the band feel.
For this release Caudle gathered some very fine musicians; over a dozen including Joshua Hedley, Erin Rae, noted electric guitarist Megan McCormick, pedal steel player Brett Resnick, and bassist Kevin Black. In Crushed Coins they and producer Jon Ashley have created a much larger space for Caudle to set his songwriting, which he has done to stunning effect.