Carter Girl, Carlene Carter’s first album of new recordings this decade, will be released April 8 by Rounder Records. The album was produced by Don Was, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and is, in a very literal way, Carlene’s personal homage to her Carter Family roots and to the the ethos that has been the foundation of much of America’s music for almost 90 years.
As the daughter of June Carter Cash and country music great Carl Smith, the granddaughter of Mother Maybelle Carter and stepdaughter of Johnny Cash, Carlene says it has been her lifelong goal to make this record. “The songs on the album cover three generations of Carter Family music,” she notes. In fact, she shares writing credit with A.P. Carter on “Lonesome Valley 2003,” an updating of the Carter Family patriarch’s “Lonesome Valley” that reflects the loss of Carlene’s mother, sister and stepfather eleven years ago. The album’s first track, just out is “Little Black Train,” that was first recorded by The Carter Family in 1935.
The album revisits both classic Carter Family repertoire as well as original songs that relate to Carlene’s connection with her musical and familial roots. Willie Nelson guests on “Troublesome Waters” and Kris Kristofferson joins Carlene on “Black Jack David” while the unmistakable voice of Vince Gill is heard harmonizing on “Lonesome Valley 2003.” “Blackie’s Gunman” is a duet with Elizabeth Cook, whom Carlene calls her “adopted sister.” Cook is heard on six of the album’s twelve tracks. The participation of Lorrie Carter Bennett, daughter of Anita Carter, as well as Joe Breen, Carlene’s husband, underscores the continuing Carter Family connective tissue that the album celebrates.
Musicians on the Carter Girl sessions that took place last year in Los Angeles and Nashville include Jim Keltner, Rami Jaffee, Greg Leisz, Sam Bush, Mickey Rafael, Blake Mills as well as producer Don Was on bass. The guitar of the late ‘Cowboy’ Jack Clement is heard on “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow” and there are vocal contributions from generations past — Carlene’s aunts Helen and Anita Carter as well as June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash on the chorus of “I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow”– that make Carter Girl an evocative collection, bringing music history and the roots of today’s Americana movement to life for contemporary listeners.
Carlene is well aware that she is doing her part to honor those who came before her in her own way. “From the day I first touched a guitar or piano,” she recalls, “My mom said, ‘You have to carry on the legacy of the Carter Family music. It’s supposed to be passed on and passed around.'” Nearly a century after the Carter Family’s first recordings changed the course of American music, that circle remains not only unbroken but strengthened by Carlene Carter, who is forever and most happily, a Carter Girl.
USA Today premieres “Little Black Train” from Carter Girl; click to listen: http://ow.ly/tx6JM
Carter Girl track listing
1. Little Black Train (A.P. Carter)
2. Give Me The Roses (A.P. Carter)
3. Me and The Wildwood Rose (Carlene Carter)
4. Blackie’s Gunman (duet with Elizabeth Cook) (A.P. Carter)
5. I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight (A.P. Carter)
6. Poor Old Heartsick Me (Helen Carter)
7. Troublesome Waters (duet with Willie Nelson)
(Maybelle Carter/Ezra Carter/Dixie Dean Hall)
8. Lonesome Valley 2003 (with special guest Vince Gill)
(Carlene Carter/A.P. Carter/Al Anderson)
9. Tall Lover Man (June Carter Cash)
10. Gold Watch and Chain (A.P. Carter)
11. Blackjack David (duet with Kris Kristofferson) (A.P. Carter)
12. I Ain’ Gonna Work Tomorrow (featuring Helen Carter, Anita Carter, June Carter Cash and Johnny Cash) (A.P. Carter)