Album Review: Caitlin Canty, ‘Quiet Flame’

Caitlin Canty’s stunningly gorgeous Quiet Flame burns with a fraught tranquility. Every song on the album meditates on the beauty and fragility of the natural world and the intimate pull of natural forces—the sun, the moon—on our lives. Produced by Chris Eldridge, the album features Eldridge on guitar, Brittany Haas on fiddle, Sarah Jarosz on mandolin and banjo, Paul Kowert on bass, Andrew Marlin on vocals, and Noam Pikelny on Plectrum guitar.

The album opens with “Blue Sky Moon,” a slowly unfurling paean, with an ethereal chorus, to embracing a slower pace in life, to “standing still in the river wide” as the currents rush by, and to rising and setting languorously like the moon. On “Heart of My Country,” Haas’ fiddle creates the flowering emotional landscape over which Canty’s  crystalline vocals blossom as she ponders where the heart of her country lies now: does it lie in the city or in the Oklahoma fields “cut up into squares of green and brown/Like a quilt unfinished like a fiddle singing a low and lonesome sound”?

The melancholy “Salt Water” explores the enduring character of love and loss and the difficulties of healing, while the atmospheric, jazz-inflected, “I Don’t Think of You” unfolds over the interplay of Pikelny’s Plectrum guitar and Haas’ spiraling fiddle, which provide layers beneath Canty’s soaring vocals. The sprightly bluegrass rambler “Odds of Getting Even,” a good time barn dance number in which the singer defiantly declares that “the odds of getting even/will no longer be my burden,” is addictive. The meditative title track is dedicated to the late drummer and singer Billy Conway; the song tenderly evokes the pull of memory and its enduring quality: “Moonlight is nothing but a memory of a sunny day/Memory of a sunny day that keeps on shining.” The album closes with the gospel-inflected road song, “Come by the Highway Home,” which celebrates the joy of the journey and the sweetness of the return.

On Quiet Flame Canty’s songs peer into the corners of the human heart that are marked by loss and longing, pondering the resilience of love and hope that shine through moments of bleakness and darkness. Canty’s expressive vocals convey the emotional registers of each song with a tender intimacy that proceeds from dwelling in the lyrics. Quiet Flame touches the depths of our being and lives in our hearts and souls long after the last note of the album plays.


Quiet Flame is available HERE.


Music & Merch

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