Sound — 8
Loaded with folk-inspired prose and Americana stylized trimmings, 11 North, the new album from singer-songwriter-guitarist Carl Creighton, has a storytelling versing relatable to Mat Kearney with a bluesy rock chugging associated with Sufjan Stevens. Creighton developed and honed his folk-pop leanings with his debut record Minnesota, and fine-tuned his country rock hooks and ethereal-pop traits for his new album. 11 North seams rock-based textures and orchestral fibers into attractive patterns. He has an ability to complement soft rock acoustics with shades of gospel and soul, and shape orchestral tones with tufts of country folk threads and ambient glides. The album has a complexity that is likeable and broadens people's perceptions about modern rock. The songs read like a letter that Creighton writes to himself about what he has been through, and the music sets the mood for his songs to have lift off. The intertwining of spiraling guitar chords and dangling strings in When I Go are cast in a country rock swagger which meet up again in No Color In My Dreams as vocalist Mimi LaValley harmonizes with Creighton's spiritual folk voicing which has a bellow liken to Edwin McCain. The soft piano mane lining Freedom Is A Buzz Word is shrouded in candlelit nuances and a gently wailing saxophone in the outr. Vocalist Erin Regan backs up Creighton on Love Sweet Love moving in synchronicity with the dulcet swing of the countrified acoustics veined by the sinuous strokes of the guitar and fiddle. The Celtic tint in the willowy strums of Your Heart In My Pocket and If E'er You Lose The Will with the latter track featuring both LaValley and Regan on vocal harmonies, has an uplifting pull while Creighton delivers more bluesy vestiges on Christian Girl with wispy buds and accordion-textured verses. Creighton closes the album with a country rocker, Fire In The Ward, which has an American tint relatable to Steve Earle.
Lyrics — 8
Creighton's lyrics go through a gamut of emotions from feeling remorse to reveling in optimistism. In Christian Girl, he addresses, I knew a Christian girl from Virginia / I know nothing about Virginia / I know nothing about God / I pray every night / Cause I know God's on her side like a good friend I know I could have been a better friend to my Christian girl. In the same vane, Creighton's track Your Heart In My Pocket shows him holding out for another chance at love, Your heart in my pocket / I hold it in my clenched fist / It don't bleed / It made of rock / It don't break / It made of stone / And it been one year since I lost my mind / I still take my days one at a time with your heart in my pocket.
Overall Impression — 8
A faithful carrier of folk-pop's torch, Carl Creighton modulates his melodies to appeal to a broad fanbase. Creighton's vocals have a clarion ring that makes an impression on listeners with songs that are melodically seamed and mounted on contemporary folk pillars. Produced, engineered and mixed by Blake Luley, the album is not too heavy or too light but steered for middle-of-the-road audiences from beginning to end. Creighton plays electric and acoustic guitars, piano, accordion, xylophone, and mandolin on the recording, and is joined by Brant Benefield on drums and percussion, Charles Barthelemy on bass, Kiersten Cunningham on violin, Carley Mo on cello, Neil Acharya on saxophone, and his producer Luley on lead guitar, keyboards, and mandolin.