In a remote area, far off the beaten path, where travelers once stopped, now circumnavigated by freeways, sit an image of a rustic romanticism of Americana. An old wooden saloon, a dimly lit open area, dusty glasses, and nondescript bottles of brown liquor fill the weathered wooden structure seemingly lost to the memory of a simpler time.
Audibly, a comparable image is rarely found and when it is, is comes in the form of a pressed vinyl within a yellowed dustjacket lettered with names long since forgotten. So it is with a great deal of awe that singer/songwriter Carter Freeman achieves such a comparison with his sophomore release, Old Town Tavern.
The weary traveler-meets-open-range-bonfire-by way of weathered leather-and-satchel flask sound of Freeman’s self-produced latest is not just full of hyphens, it is lit up with a warm presence and rare sense of Americana. Growing, significantly, with a penchant for hard spirits and rough relationships, Tavern echoes in a warmth of western bygone eras, genuinely delivered while Carter matures as a musician. Notably, he brings about the balance of his guitar and vocals to go hand-in-hand, showcasing both in a presence that brings about his identifiable often-vibrato laden style and a swagger that captures his rather captivating musicianship.
Old Town Tavern draws on the old sense of travelling the west on the rails, the hardships of the American pastime, and the callused heart that comes from many ill-fated decisions. While it would seem someone needs to give Carter a hug, it doesn’t seem these pains he sings of are his own. Rather, if you’ve ever found an old photo in a book and imagined what their life was like, Freeman brings that to life. His storytelling is honest, yet, it often feels he’s telling a story for the poor and beaten down from long ago.
Old town Tavern is an exorcism in the deeply rooted West, the stories untold, both personal and not. Perhaps the harmonica pulls, acoustic guitar slides, and isolated vocals are simply no more than a construct of a storyteller. Like the remote areas long forgotten, we can only dream. But to supplement those stories and add personality to the imagery, we have Carter Freeman’s Old Town Tavern.
Greg is a co-founder and regular contributor of Nanobot Rock.