P.O. Box 92075
Nashville, TN 37209
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by David Schultz
After producing four independent cassettes on Heartstrong Records, Carol Elliott finally released her first full-length CD in 1996, THE PEOPLE I MEET. Elliott previously had scored the Wrangler Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame for Best Western Song Of The Year, "Corn, Water & Wood," cowritten with Wendy Waldman of Bryndle and performed by Michael Martin Murphy. Her professional experience in the Nashville music business as a staff songwriter for Sony/Tree and Hayes Street Publishing, production assistant for producers Steve Gibson and Steve Buckingham, and Executive Coordinator for Dolly Parton's record label apparently has paid off with this sonically and texturally pleasing album.
Carol sometimes refers to herself in concert as a "debutante gone bad," a theme which is elaborated on in "V.T. & Me," where she presents vignettes of her life with her cousin Virginia Tate. Elliott and V.T. live parallel lives of awakening adolescent sexuality, their pot-assisted introduction to society, their marriages to "the wrong men" and their struggles to deal with the resultant divorces; these experiences cause Elliott to look back on her life and her fond youthful remembrances.
The a capella "Sergeant York's Song" was written by Elliott and Allen Shamblin for a show honoring the Tennessee Bicentennial in Washington, D.C., performed for the Senators of Tennessee and their staff at the U.S. Capitol, and later that evening at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. It tells of pacifist York's single-handed capture of an entire German battalion during WWI and his indifference to the praise being heaped on him.
All but three songs on the album are written or cowritten by Elliott. Her frequent touring partner Buddy Mondlock contributes harmony vocals and guitar to his "Break the Cup," a version possibly more affecting than Mondlock's original. And the late Walter Hyatt is given homage in two songs on her CD. Hyatt joined Elliott in the studio for the last time for his "The Sheik of Sh-Boom," a jazzy romp with fine acoustic bass work by Viktor Krauss. Elliott's own "Message from Walter" (accompanied by Mondlock) must be about Walter's comforting words to Elliott at a difficult time in her life.
"Rex Bob Lowenstein" is about a fictional radio DJ who defies format to play artists regardless of genre: Bob Dylan, U2, Stanley Jordan, Little Feat, Madonna, George Jones, and Hank Snow. Rex Bob is eventually dragged from the air and appears before a judge who throws him in jail, then thanks him for playing "Moon River" the previous night.
Elliott's journeywoman approach to her music is chronicled in "Gypsy Spirit," a spirit which "nothing can break." This song is her statement that despite her professional career in Nashville working on other people's music, she still intends to be true to herself because "I take my cues from the music, And the music takes me on." If this album is a representation of the muse that inspires Elliott's music, let's hope that it continues to inspire her on future releases.
Edited by Shawn Linderman