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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Carrington MacDuffie - Only An Angel

Carrington MacDuffie – Only An Angel
2014, Pointy Head Records

Carrington MacDuffie grew up in with the lights of the 1970’s Greenwich Village Folk scene as a primary influence.  A songwriter from the age of 13, MacDuffie became something of a musical nomad.  The New York City native spent time in Boston, Europe, Los Angeles and Seattle before settling down in Austin, Texas.  Along the way she cultivated her songwriting craft while picking up a second career as a voice artist.  If you’re a fan of ‘books on CD’ you may have heard portraying anything from a Jackie Collins novel to World of Warcraft.  MacDuffie kicks off 2014 on a musical note, releasing the six-song EP Only An Angel

MacDuffie kicks things off with the title track, a middle of the road piece of folk/country/pop.  MacDuffie’s energy seems a bit flat on the lead vocal, but the atmosphere she creates with the backing vocal flourishes is a nice touch.  The spoken word bridge is a nice touch.  “Fly Away” is a country/folk blend with a samba beat.  Once again, MacDuffie creates great sounds in the harmonies, while the songwriting and the energy are okay but nothing to get excited over.  “Hot Sun of the Summer” is cut from the same cloth, and gets stuck in a repetitive loop that is never quite breaks out of.

“Red Eye” has an odd sense of poetry to it.  There’s a nonsensical feel to this love song about being apart, perhaps reflecting the emotional chaos that distance can cause.  The musical arrangement brings the song to life.  “Stand Below Heaven” stands out for its chorus, which is memorable.  You might say it is a speculative love song written to a wayward angel, and MacDuffie practices her storyteller’s art with some success here.  MacDuffie saves her best for last.  “My Favorite Place in Texas” is a fine piece of songwriting.  The production of the song is too slick and too flat sounding, but this song will shine when played live.

Carrington MacDuffie displays the candid air of a professional storyteller at times on Only An Angel.  At other times she displays the practiced art of a singer/songwriter.  The struggle on Only An Angel seems to be fusing those two talents.  She progressively finds the blend over the last two tracks on the EP, but the production values undercut her some.  The songwriting is at least solid throughout, but the presentation of the EP is perhaps a bit too smoothed over to honor MacDuffie’s folk roots. It’s a nice effort, but the nuances sought in the blending and smoothing done on the mixing board were likely already in the music.  It’s just harder to hear them now.

Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)

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