Armed with only a guitar and a voice that suggests a bit of wisdom (but not enough to be bitter), Carolina Bound (also known as Chris Smith) has released an album that is remarkably hard to pigeonhole (other than labeling it the always vague "acoustic"), and at the same time is imbued with that Asheville sensibility — that certain ability to meld the old time roots of this region with a more timely awareness in lyrics, presentation and structure. The songs on Love & War are not particularly plaintive or melancholy as with someone like Ray LaMontagne, but I feel both LaMontagne and Smith come from a similar school. Talented in many facets, it's Smith's storytelling that really sells these songs. It's rather intuitive to feel where he's coming from, and there's a Dylan-esque quality that pops up frequently — a complete non-sequitur that perfectly captures the essence of what he's trying to say, connecting viscerally with the listener's own absurd experience — something also not dissimilar to the always-great Paul Simon. Smith's voice also has a lot in common with Simon's. There's a lot of comfort and friendship in both their voices, and they both sing in a similar range without overwhelming the rest of the song. I've seen Carolina Bound live, and I think Smith's ability to keep an audience riveted comes through on Love & War, and I urge to hear for yourself.
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