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Lori Carson


Country of origin:

U.S.

Type of music generally:

(Altpop)

Status:

Most recent release, Another Year (2012)

See also:

Lori Carson's site

The Wikipedia article on The Golden Palominos

The Ectophiles' Guide entry for The Golden Palominos

Comparisons:

Lisa Cerbone, Heidi Berry, Beth Orton

I think Lori and Lisa Cerbone (besides sharing initials) have pretty similar sounding voices and occasionally have the same stylistic vibe going. (neal)

her music is probably comparable to Beth Orton, in that she has a touch of folk singer songwriter, but with more a bit of a production, underlying beat edge to it. not nearly as trip hoppy as Beth Orton is, nor as radio friendly catchy, but i think what Beth Orton is doing is probably the closest approximation to her. it's most evident in Everything I Touch Runs Wild and Where It Goes (because Anton Fier helped produce both albums i think—the guy behind Golden Polominos, her project before going solo). (iflin@speakeasy.net)

Covers/own material:

Own

General comments:

Definitely someone worth checking out. I've had the pleasure of seeing Lori perform on a number of occasions at the Knitting Factory in New York. (jjh969@juno.com)

Lori Carson is great to listen to when everything is quiet, and preferably dark as well. (afries@zip.com.au)

Lori is amazing, and i would love to hear her live. i find a lot of similarities to her and Beth Orton, from the folksy guitar based music with slight electronica production laid underneath, to the lost love theme and emotionality of hurt and sorrow, to the fact that they both have previously released debut albums that are impossible to get (Beth Orton's Supermandypinky is only available in Japan, and Lori's Shelter is out of print), to the fact that they collaborated with big time musicians/producers before really coming into their own musically (Beth Orton with William Orbit, and Lori with Anton Fier). for fans of either, i highly recommend checking out the other if you haven't already. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

I've never really been able to figure out what to make of Lori Carson. I've got Shelter, her first disc, and I find it to be uniformly nice, but not particularly notable. There are a few songs that finally started to make an impression, but by and large, there was little in it that I found exciting. I've also got the Golden Polominos' Drunk With Passion, and I love it. It doesn't even sound like the same singer. The vocal style, delivery, lyrical content, hell—even the voice, all sound different. I find that to be a totally captivating album and a totally unexpected side of Lori as a vocalist. (neal)

Lori's music is very simple and quiet, mostly guitar and piano, but you have to really listen closely to appreciate it. (rkb200@is5.nyu.edu)

When I first heard Lori Carson, I hated her. I thought she had a real weak voice, and whined a lot. She sort of whisper sings most of the time, but once you get used to it, it can be very effective. Despite initial impressions, I kept listening and now really like her. (jjhanson@att.net)

Comments about live performance:

Her music seems so fragile, and the mood she creates so sensitive, that it always seemed on the verge of breaking apart. I think it's a tough line to walk, and on a few songs, the tension didn't carry through and it just got kind of slow. Most of the time though, it was captivating and powerful. For me, the highlights were a number of songs from 1995's Where It Goes album, and one old Golden Polominos' song I hadn't heard before. It actually got close to being rowdy. I think it was called "I'm Not Sorry" and was a litany of things she wasn't sorry about having done. (c. 1996)
     She opened the show by playing a 35-minute set accompanying herself on guitar. The songs were all sung with her thin wispy voice sounding tired and sad, and the minimal guitar accompaniment not building up any sort of noticeable melody or anything. I thought of the Red House Painters with a female singer because of the slow, somber readings that everything got.
     She only played one song from Shelter ("Pretty Girls," given the same low-key treatment as everything else), with the remainder being from the new album and one from the Golden Polominos' Pure, although it didn't sound any different than the others. These mostly made me drowsy. I was completely unprepared for her final song, which is new and not on any album. It was the raw and painful tale of a woman who's only known abusive, unloving relationships. The singing approach was essentially the same as on all her previous songs, but resonated with a deep emotional intensity.
     To be fair, the people around me seemed to have loved her entire set. Both the proclaimed fans and the people seeing her for the first time. (6/95)
     Lori managed to fill a bar with people sitting on the floor at her feet, in silent adoration, as she laid her music upon us. It didn't all work, but when it did, it was as powerful as anything else I heard this year. (1/98)
     I've seen Lori a few times, and find her shows to be somewhat erratic. Sometimes she hits her quiet intensity dead on, and other times it doesn't pack the full punch. The evening seemed to wander into both worlds. I liked a lot of the new songs, and was happy to see her perform a handful of old ones too. (11/99, neal) The first two songs Lori played did not interest me that much, but I loved her sweet voice. I think it was because I was so tired, I needed more upbeat stuff. The next song she played made me sit up and take notice. Unfortunately that was all she'd play, she ran out of time before she could play another song. (kamesan@geocities.com)

Fantastic. Played a way-too-short four-song set, all from her spellbinding album Everything I Touch Runs Wild. She has an exquisite voice, in the Sarah M. class, and her performance was the highlight of the night for me. Could be the next star of alterna-female rockers. (7/97, miazgama@pilot.msu.edu)

Lori Carson was at the Middle East tonight to kick off her little US tour. She had Chris Cunningham on guitars and bouzouki (i think it was a bouzouki), and another guy named Paul something on more guitars. And she had a guitar. Lots of guitars. There was a small yet fervent crowd there, happy to see her.
     The show was dreamy, as you'd expect. Languid and beautiful. She also had to cut out a number of songs from her set here to squeeze into the time the venue allowed her, which was kind of disappointing. But she was very gracious and appreciative of the crowd, saying that because she doesn't get up here that often, that she wasn't just gonna do 1 hour and get off stage. She also came out after her set was done, after an apologetic wave indicating that there wouldn't be an encore, to talk with the fans. Such a nice woman. (10/99, paul2k@aol.com)

I went to see Lori Carson mainly because I'd heard she was playing with Chris Cunningham and that her New York appearance would feature a full band with a cello. The band turned out to be:

Chris Cunningham—guitar (electric & effects)
Paul Pimsler—guitar (acoustic & electric)
Joe Bomadio (sp?)—drums
Layng Martine—bass
Jane Scarpantoni—cello
and a guest appearance on several numbers by Steven Bernstein on trumpet.
Lori said that she'd just moved back to New York from Seattle, and while she was there she'd had trouble finding the right kind of musicians to play with. If she had to put together her ideal band, she said, this would be it.
     I wasn't familiar with any of Lori Carson's music, but it was a nice introduction. A number of members of the audience did seen to know her work; one kept calling out "Treasure," which she finally played as her second-last number. She ran behind schedule and had to cram the last quarter of her set into fifteen minutes (10 of which went over the time she was supposed to end) and going right into her encore "to save time."
     I was reminded a lot of Lisa Cerbone, but that may have been just a surface impression. From her looks, I would have expected a deeper voice, and nothing in the music grabbed me right away and said, "You have to get this!"—but I'll definitely go see her again next time she plays here. (10/99, psfblair@ix.netcom.com)

Recommended first album:

as for what her sound is like and per recommendations, i think her latest, Stars, is a great starting point. it is very accessible, and has more happy songs, than her previous two. well, at least happy sounding. if you read the lyrics, they are still quite somber and sad, like the rest of her stuff.
     i would then work your way backwards to Everything I Touch Runs Wild (the 2CD set), and then Where It Goes. i think they also run from most depressing (Where It Goes) to most uplifting. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

I recommend starting with Everything I Touch Runs Wild. It's a great mood album—sort of angry/self-pitying, but her voice is really suited for that. It's easy to empathize with her due to the fragility of her voice. (jjhanson@att.net)

To see a slightly different side of Lori, more sultry and less self-pitying you could also try a couple of Golden Polominos records: This is how it feels and pure. (afries@zip.com.au)

Recordings:


Shelter

Release info:

1990—Geffen Records—9 24256-D2

Availability:

Out of print

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Lori Carson

Guest artists:

Paul Pimsler, Marc Ribot, Gib Wharton, Gary Lucas, John Fahey—guitar
Michael Gibbs—string arrangements
Ed Roynesdal—keyboards, programming
Mark Egan, Tony Garnier, Rob Wasserman—bass
Michael Blair—percussion, glockenspiel, drums, tambourines, marimba
Doris Eugenio, Margaret Dorn, Ellen Cargen, Greg Allman—vocals
Carol Emanuel—harp
Chris Lacey—recorder
Edward Beckett, Luke Stevens—flute
Hank Roberts—cello
Stuart Waters, Gil Goldstein—piano
Prairie Prince—drums
Alfredo Padernera—bandoneon
Phil Todd—clarinet
Sharon Freeman—horns

Produced by:

Hal Wilner

Comments:

first album from this recent Golden Polominos crooner. i heard this a few times when it was first released in 1990, but did not care for it then. i like it more now. pretty, waifish, wispy, folky stuff. sort of roots rock without the rock and with an urban bent. (woj@smoe.org)

Shelter was published prior to her joining the Golden Polominos. It's long out of print, and I'm led to believe that is Lori's preference. Shelter is a fairly uneven work, and is my least favorite of her solo albums. That said, the title track may be her most heart wrenchingly emotional work...in a dark Where It Goes kind of way. (drewh@bitwise.com)

One track is unplayable but the rest is lovely. (stjarnell@yahoo.com)

Her first solo [album] was pre-Golden Polominos; it was a much more mainstream radio friendly album. There was a single off of it, too, "Imagine Love" (the single doesn't have any b-sides though, just a radio remix).
     It is now out of print, and I think Lori has kept it out of print intentionally. It isn't a bad album, and she occasionally does a song from it in concert, but mostly it is something that is behind her. She even changed her publishing company from Blue Kitchen music to Feels Good For A Minute music.
     It's a decent album that is worth picking up in the cheap bins (where you will find it, if at all). Some nice tunes, and she does have a lovely, though a bit thin and affected, voice. (iflin@speakeasy.net)


Where It Goes

Release info:

1995—Restless—7 72787-2

Availability:

Wide on release

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Lori Carson—vocals

Guest artists:

Paul Pimsler—acoustic guitar
Tony Coniff—electric bass
Irwin Fisch—piano, synth, string arrangement, cello, Hammond organ
Anton Fier—drums, shaker, tamboura
Aiyb Dieng—chatan
Gabe Katz—bass
Chris Cunningham—acoustic guitar, ebow
Larry Saltzman—lead guitar, electric guitar
Lydia Kavanagh—background vocals
Knox Chandler—bass, cello, guitar ambience
Alan Bezozi—cymbal swells, shaker, triangle, glockenspiel

Produced by:

Anton Fier

Comments:

This is Lori's second solo album. Her first is no longer in print. She did a few albums with the Golden Polominos, which is where I heard her first. The songs on this album are very mellow, and some would say melancholy. I really enjoy her voice, which has a whispery quality to it. This might be my favorite album of the year. (SANDOVAL@stsci.edu)

second solo record by this wistful new york chanteuse. didn't grab me on the first listen, but the second and third were keepers. the music is provided by the usual new york crew: anton fier, nicky skopelitis, etc. their ability to convincingly pull off lori's melancholy melodies is almost as intriguing as lori's charming voice. (woj@smoe.org)

have i been blatantly blind here? has everyone discussed this and i wasn't reading? probably. the voice behind the latter Golden Polominos does a solo album and it is really really nice. i think her voice is a little thin, but i really like the music. the second song, "waking to the dream of you", is beautiful. (iflin@speakeasy.net)

This album is incredible; it was among my faves in 1995. The musicianship alone on that record makes it noteworthy (for Susan McKeown + the Chanting House fans, Chris Cunningham plays on several cuts). The other acoustic guitarist (Paul Pimsler) is wonderful and Knox Chandler's guitar work is ever-impressive as well. Then there are Lori's vocals—haunting and effective. This is one depressing CD lyrically I do hafta say; while listening to it on repeat, it can get to me. The overall production is outstanding—Golden Polominos master Anton Fier produced and played drums on several cuts. If you brushed this record aside, definitely give it another shot. I prefer Where It Goes to Everything I Touch Runs Wild, but I'm not as familiar with the newer record so that may change over time. (emjay@netcom.com)

I instantly fell for Where It Goes, an album full of the most miserable tunes I'd heard in a while. (neal)

probably still my favourite... (afries@zip.com.au)


Everything I Touch Runs Wild

Release info:

1997—Restless Records—72923

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Lori Carson—vocals, guitar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar

Guest artists:

Knox Chandler—acoustic guitar, bass, electric guitar, guitar
Chris Cunningham—acoustic guitar, E-bow, electric guitar, guitar, sarod
Lydia Kavanagh—background vocals
Bill Laswell—bass
Jane Scarpantoni—cello, arrangements
Alan Bezozi—drums, percussion
Anton Fier—drums
Russ Irwin—Hammond organ, keyboards, tambourine
Beth Sorrentino (Suddenly Tammy)—harmony vocals, piano
Matthew Pierce—viola, violin
Juliann Klopotic—violin

Produced by:

Anton Fier & Lori Carson

Comments:

not much groundbreaking work here, but if you like her previous albums (as i do), this one will keep you happy. mellow, soft, relaxing. heidi berry with a twist of tribeca. (woj@smoe.org)

Carson is interesting to say the least. Her voice can be pathetically weak and whiny, and yet, after a few listens, you find yourself absolutely loving it—particularly in certain self-pitying moods. This album is a beautiful, haunting album, both lyrically (despite the moroseness) and in the masterful arrangements. Few singers could lyrics like "I don't want to fuck up anything/ I want to be your girl/ I know you think I'm kind of strange/ I just want to love you/" or "I've never had anybody worth a damn/ And I don't know why/ I am the way I am/ But I'm so sick of being the way I am", without being laughed, ridiculed, or quickly advised to take some Prozac or Lithium, but Carson actually makes us relate, and recognize in ourselves our own insecurities and longings for love. (jjhanson@att.net)

I was ordering some espresso coffee at a local Starbucks, when this album caught my eye in they CD bin by the cash register (can you imagine, now they get ya when you go in for latte); she immediately caught my eye. So I took a chance on her and brought her home; and I like her. Playing this album reminds me of sitting in a bar in San Francisco that only serves expensive wines, and where people come in all dressed up just to sip and listen. Lori plays with you with her voice, the mellow (almost boring, in my irreverent opinion) accompaniment being there just to keep the rhythm and bind the rhyme. I thought I would get bored with the album after a few plays, but it has turned out to be a case of having a goold old friend whisper a few sweet things in my ear.
     No, it hasn't made me run wild, or even touched me, but it has a certain seductive quality that makes me want to come back every once in a while. I even included "Snow Come Down" in a mix tape a while back. I think I paid "espresso price" for it, meaning around $16, so $8 would be a good bargain even of it doesn't touch you or make you run wild. (bill@wagill.com)

Victimology was never this bittersweet. (beckwith@ime.net)

One of my top 1997 discs. Actually, I discovered this at the end of '96, but Carson's art is so sweet and perfectly heart-wrenching that it counts for two years, and maybe I'll sneak it on the list again next year and there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it. (terra@mhv.net)

It's a great piece of work. Very moody...very sitting-alone-in-the-dark kind of sound. A beautiful voice, and I really enjoy the romantic desperation of the lyrics. (miazgama@pilot.msu.edu)

I already told the Suddenly, Tammy! folk that Beth Sorrentino of Suddenly Tammy plays piano on Lori Carson's new album everything i touch runs wild. What I didn't say was that Beth also does harmony vocals on the song "greener." Anyway, I highly recommend this album. Lori's voice is soft, Tori-like at times, and sometimes it's almost spoken word/whisper, she's not really singing, but her voice is really beautiful, and when she does sing, like on the most catchy song "Something's got me", she really shines. and Jane Scarpantoni plays cello on a few songs too. (rkb200@is5.nyu.edu)

I second the sentiment that Lori's new album is really good. I got her previous solo album because I liked her work on the Golden Polominos' Pure; however, I didn't care too much for Lori's last album. It got the customary two listens when I bought it, but pretty much went straight to the shelf and has stayed there since. I should take it out and listen to it again now, I guess. From what I gather, Lori's first album is out of print, and she has more-or-less "disowned" it now, as she was apparently not at all happy with it.
     The same thing has happened to me with Lori Carson and Lisa Cerbone recently: I got their current releases despite having been less than thrilled with their previous efforts. I guess favorable mentions here or elsewhere and the feeling that each artist had untapped promise encouraged me to take a chance on the new albums. Fortunately, the gamble paid off in both cases :). (Greg.Jumper@Eng.Sun.COM)


Stars

Release info:

1999—Restless Records—72938

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Lori Carson—vocals, electric guitar

Guest artists:

Rich Mercurio—chordal drum
Chris Cunningham—guitar, sarod
Joey Baron—cymbals, hi hat, hand drums, drum fills
Jon Hyde—pedal steel guitar
Shawn Pelton—drums
Lorenza Ponce—violin
Gordon Raphael—keyboards, Arp Odyssey
Doug Weiselman—clarinet
Paul Pimsler—electric guitar
Jane Scarpantoni—cello, string arrangements
Lindsey Horner—double bass
Layng Martine III—keyboards, sampling, loops
Reggie Watts—keyboards
Davis Martin—drum samples

Produced by:

Lori Carson, Joe Ferla, Layng Martine III

Comments:

I just got this one, but wow! So far I like it as much as her last album, seems this one has less production. Very Ecto-friendly back-up band: Chris Cunningham, Lindsey Horner and Jane Scarpantoni. Great songs, very calming. (NNadelS@aol.com)

This CD is amazingly great—much like Beth Orton's Central Reservation. (emjay@netcom.com)

Her latest, Stars, is a much happier album, but it is also a less emotional album. (jjhanson@att.net)

If you're starting off on Lori, I think her latest, Stars, is the right place to start. It's very accessible and as jjhanson pointed out, fairly happy. I don't agree however that Stars is less emotional. It think it is less dark and in some ways even humourous ("Head In a Box")—something fairly rare in Lori's work. (drewh@bitwise.com)


House in the Weeds

Release info:

2001—Micropop—MP 002

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Recommended for fans

Group members:

Lori Carson

Guest artists:

Layng Martine III—bass
Jane Scarpantoni—cello
Paul Pimsler—guitar

Produced by:

Lori Carson

Comments:

This new Lori Carson is really stripped down demos. I just popped it in and took a nap, so I can't say much about it, beyond that it sounded just like the Lori Carson I saw many years ago in a brief solo acoustic concert. There was one song, I think the title track, that struck me as particularly plaintive and aching. (neal)

The Finest Thing

Release info:

2004—Meta Records—6 58137 00182 9

Availability:

Wide

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Lori Carson—voices, electric and acoustic guitars, keyboards

Guest artists:

Paul Pimsler—electric guitars
Scott Tweedie—trumpet
Ayako Hirakata—voices
Brady Rymer—acoustic guitar on "Coney Island Ride"

Produced by:

Lori Carson

Comments:

The Finest Thing is more meditations than songs. Melodies recur in different tracks, guitars swirl and hum, bells chime now and then, and Lori's sweet voice drifts in and out. It all feels like one piece, one long meditation, quite beautiful, often haunting, and always mesmerizing. (JoAnn Whetsell)

Further info:

Songs by twelve songwriters written at a workshop led by Lori Carson were released as the album Songs at the Point: Songs from the Lori Carson August 2002 Workshop.


Thanks to JoAnn Whetsell for work on this entry.

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