Caroline Peyton: Donkey Blues
From Intuition (Asterisk, 2009)
Numero and its subsidiary Asterisk always seem to dig up some fun bits. While primarily known for soul comp reissues, they have also put out several intriguing folk comps. Caroline Peyton made her Numero debut on the Wayfaring Strangers compilation but sees a more expansive treatment on these full lengths, albums originally released in 1972 and 1977, respectively. Fall Out had reissued Intuition in 2007, but Asterisk one ups them with a release that features 7 bonus tracks.
Whereas Mock Up is more in the traditional folk vein, Intuition has more variegated tones. While the latter has a fleck of country here and a smidgen of blues there – and even a hint of disco, the voice is still the star of the show. The prime example shows up on the bonus video on Mock Up where she sings “Call Of The Wild,” a track that appears on Intuition, at a small nightclub . The album version is a nice piece, but after hearing the live acoustic version, you keep going back to it for more. She’s so vocally diverse that she can pull off guttural soul sister sass on “Donkey Blues” while the harmonica wails and not sound like she’s overstretching her bounds.
I was reminded of Carole King (especially on Mock Up), Laura Nyro, and Linda Ronstadt while listening to these albums. Caroline’s voice has so many rich, warm tones that can bend to whatever the arrangement calls for, and she sings with such unassuming confidence. It’s no wonder that she’s remained in the industry, albeit in a place you wouldn’t expect – singing for Disney movies.
Edd Hurt has written excellent liner notes detailing the backstory featuring her roots in the Bloomington, Indiana, scene with musical writing partner Mark Bingham. While she never hit it in the bigs, she shouldn’t be relegated to obscurity. Unheralded doesn’t have to go hand-in-hand with unappreciated; it just means that we have to dig a little deeper.