Carrie Elkin is one of those rare artists with a tidal wave singing voice, and a stage whisper writing voice that brings you to the edge of your seat, emotionally. Like Patty Griffin or Brandi Carlile, she straddles the Americana, Folk, and Indie Rock worlds, where meaningful songs meet the fierce-yet- fragile voices of powerful women. Like these other seminal artists, Elkin has the gift of projecting very personal intimate moments into transcendent universal experiences that move us all.
The voice, the stories, the images, the grace and infectious enthusiasm, it’s a complete package. But it’s the power of her live performances that really have been creating an incredible buzz around this young artist. Maverick Magazine said it best, after a recent festival performance: “I have never seen a performer so in love with the act of singing. That’s the gospel truth, and from what I’ve subsequently learned, I’m not the only one to believe or state that. Onstage, Elkin was simply a force of nature.”
The Penny Collector is Elkin’s seventh record and is the long awaiting first solo release since her acclaimed Call It My Garden album was released in 2011 on venerable roots label, Red House Records. But she’s been busy in that time period, releasing a duo record with her husband, songwriter Danny Schmidt, performing as a featured vocalist in the Sam Baker Trio, and touring as the musical guest with the hit podcast Welcome To Night Vale. So it’s very exciting to have this new collection of her solo work. There’s just something stunning about hearing a celebrated vocalist step forward and deliver her own songs. Like hearing Emmylou Harris sing Red Dirt Girl, it reminds you what an incredible voice the Incredible Voice has.
Written in a year that was bookended by the birth of Elkin’s first child and the process of caretaking her father through the dying process, The Penny Collector is a poet’s momentous stroll full circle around the human lifecycle in one single year. It’s a journey that is beautifully told, fragile and heartbreaking at times, joyous and raucous in others. And Elkin once again delivers the powerhouse vocal performance that people have come to expect, with delicate waves of intimacy that build to astonishing crests and crashes of intensity.
Named to the Chicago Tribune’s 50 Most Significant Songwriters in the Last 50 Years, Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Danny Schmidt has amassed a cult following for his stunningly poetic, poignant imagery.
Performing solo almost exclusively, armed with just his voice, his acoustic guitar, and his acute commentary, Schmidt’s an authentic timeless troubadour, one man sharing his truth in the form of songs, unadorned and intimate. The understated effect can be startlingly powerful. As songwriter Jeffrey Foucault put it: “Everything about the man is gentle, except for his capacity for insight, which is crushing.”