Caroline Herring has delivered a technically spot-on, pleasant enough record with Lantana. Her “re-imagining of the Gothic South” is easy to listen to: every ebbing key change accented with perfectly plucked acoustic guitar, each suspended slide guitar riff casually lilting through a structured, completely melodic chorus. The Guthrie-esque “Lay My Burden Down” is a catchy, well-crafted Americana track with some beautiful vocal harmonies, a cut ripe for mid-American, mid-day radio play. But it’s all a bit too familiar.
“Paper Gown” is a classic murder ballad, but Herring fails to infuse a true sense of menace, of regret into her characters. The details are all there: drowned children, misplaced convictions, Freudian childhood trauma… But Herring could use to examine a few Nick Cave records or even revisit Johnny Cash or the Violent Femmes’ “Country Death Song” and dive deeper into the idiosyncrasies and derangements that have long been the distinguishing traits of tragic, character-driven dirges. “Midnight on the Water” and the sweetly sparse “All the Pretty Little Horses,” are nicely performed traditionals, aching for some dangerous choices, some sort of subtle update.
Herring has what it takes to sculpt beautiful Americana ditties, but with a few more daring instrumental innovations and unfiltered songwriting choices she could deliver a truly engaging upgrade on a very old school formula.
Favorite Track: “Lay My Burden Down”