Music

‘Highway Prayer’: A Tribute To Adam Carroll Celebrates Singular Texas Tunesmith

Tribute album due October 28 on Eight 30 Records features James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Slaid Cleaves, Band of Heathens, Tim Easton and Aaron Lee Tasjan

Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carrolldue October 28 on Austin-based Eight 30 Recordscelebrates a true songwriter’s songwriter, a Texas tunesmith who has inspired both younger and older artists for nearly two decades. Carroll simply captures entire lifetimes in snapshots like few other songwriters (“Screen Door,” “Girl With the Dirty Hair”). “I try to find moments that are sublime,” he explains. “They just last a little bit and then you’re back to your regular life and strife, but there are just these perfect little moments.” Evidence: “Black Flag Blues,” “Red Bandana Blues,” “South of Town,” “Smoky Mountain Taxi” and dozens more.
Carroll sketches characters with a novelist’s eye (“Errol’s Song”) and a poet’s elegance (“Hi Fi Love”) as hisvivid vignettes frequently turn personal into universal within seconds (“Highway Prayer”). Consider “Rain.” “I’m feeling like a bird dragging through the storm/Feeling like a scarecrow standing in the corn,” the down and defeated narrator declares. “Sometimes you can’t get through, sometimes it just takes two/Sometimes two adds up to nothing.” Such sideways glances define his literate landscapes. “Long compared to the likes of John Prine and Townes Van Zandt,” the Austin Chronicle once raved, “Adam Carroll proves he’s beyond compare.”
Admittedly, eyebrows were raised throughout the Lone Star State and beyond as news spread about this tribute record. After all, the Central Texas-based songwriter has notched only forty-two trips around the sun, a young man by any measure. No matter. Carroll’s deeply observant stories simply deserve wider attention beyond that of his reverent peers. “Adam’s a songwriter’s songwriter, a unique voice who’s important to a lot of songwriters,” longtime fan Hayes Carll says. “A lot of people are influenced by him. That’s the measure of if you deserve a tribute record: Are there people you have influenced enough who will come and do it? That’s undoubtedly so with Adam.”
Clearly. Scan the roster of those who jumped when the notion was mentioned: Slaid CleavesTerri Hendrix. James McMurtry. Verlon Thompson. Walt Wilkins. Only songs with the most depth and weight turn those heads. “Adam has so many great songs,” Cleaves says. “There are only a couple of writers who consistently catch my ear and remind me of the subtle joy that great songs can bring. It’s artisanal songwriting. Never gonna be sold at Walmart, but it’ll remind the fortunate few that great songwriting can connect you to your neighbors, your fellow humans, even your own jaded heart.”
Tim Easton doubles down. “Adam Carroll is East Texas’ own Shakespeare of song,” the East Nashville resident says. “Listen and learn, people. Listen for the details that make us human. Learn how to write about a culture that you are fascinated with. Find the details in behavior that make us all sympathize. His songs belong in Texan and Bayou anthropology courses, but mostly they should belong to your car stereo speakers.”
Other titles on Eight 30 Records include Cold and Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted HawkinsDreamer: A Tribute to Kent Finlay and Danny Barnes’ Got Myself Together (Ten Years Later).
Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll track listing:
“Screen Door” • James McMurtry
“Girl with the Dirty Hair” • Hayes Carll
“South of Town” • Slaid Cleaves
“Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler” • Band of Heathens
“Hi Fi Love” • Jamie Lin Wilson
“Lil’ Runaway” • Verlon Thompson
“Rain • Scott Nolan
“Old Town Rock N Roll” • Matt the Electrician
“Black Flag Blues” • Tim Easton and Aaron Lee Tasjan
“Smoky Mountain Taxi” • Danny Barnes
“Errol’s Song” • Jason Eady
“Red Bandana Blues” • Terri Hendrix
“Home Again” • Mando Saenz
“Highway Prayer” • Walt Wilkins
Bonus track: “My Only Good Shirt” • Adam Carroll
To pre-order this album, click here.

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