On Saturday, April 15, Austin-based Carrie Elkin will bring her sublime vocals and exquisitely-penned songs to the Empire State Railway Museum (ESRM) in a performance for Flying Cat Music. Joining her will be special guest Danny Schmidt, who is both an award-winning singer-songwriter and Carrie’s husband. The ESRM is located at 70 Lower High Street in Phoenicia. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and music begins at 7:30. Admission is $15 or $13 with reservations. For information or reservation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 845-688-9453.
Carrie Elkin comes to Phoenicia on a tour in support of her brand new CD The Penny Collector, which was released on April 7. She is joined by a very special guest, the exceedingly talented singer-songwriter Danny Schmidt (more about him below), who is also her husband and the father of their first child; six-month-old daughter Maizy. Maizy figures prominently, in spirit, in The Penny Collector. So does Carrie’s father Richard Elkin (the actual penny collector), who died earlier in the same year that brought Maizy into this world. On June 16, 2016, Carrie announced in her blog, “It’s been a year since my papa passed. And I’m making a new record in his honor.”
Austin Songwriter writes, “The end of one life and the birth of another, the departing of a loved one and the arrival of another, is the fragile thread of life explored in The Penny Collector.” It goes on to say,
“Carrie’s songs trade in gorgeous introspection punctuated by insistent joy. Her music is heartening, unafraid, unwilling to let life’s twists and turns pull her down. It gives us strength for the road ahead.”
The first thing people notice when they encounter Carrie Elkin’s music is her voice, the second is how she uses it. The Austin Chronicle describes Elkin’s vocals as, “an earthy combination of strength and compassion . . . reminiscent of the winsome beauty created by a young Nanci Griffith.” Folkwax wrote, “Carrie Elkin’s songs are, at once, intimate yet universal, naked yet richly adorned. Her voice is simply revelatory.”
The reviews coming in for The Penny Collector reflect just that. No Depression raves that, “Angels listen as she sings;” while musicforbalance.com said, “Elkin can turn a delicate trickle of a note into a tidal wave of ten emotions.” The British website musicriot.co.uk makes a keen observation about the recording: “Throughout the album, Carrie’s vocals are closely-miked and placed right up front and center; it’s a technique that works when the singer has perfect control, which Carrie has, totally and utterly…”
It has always been that way at Carrie Elkin’s live performances. A reviewer at Maverick Magazine once said of Carrie, “I have never seen a performer so in love with the act of singing . . . Onstage Elkin was simply a force of nature.” The Athens Music Network simply concludes, “Very few people in this world can captivate an audience with just a voice and a guitar the way Carrie Elkin can.”
The Penny Collector is Elkin’s first independently produced CD in seven years. Prior to that, she released two critically acclaimed albums on Red House Records and another on that label with her husband, the lovely 2014 CD For Keeps. The Penny Collector is a triumph of a record, one that firmly establishes Elkin in the top echelon of American songwriters, to go alongside the status she already has as a vocalist among those fortunate enough to have already heard Carrie sing.
No Depression writes, “The songs seemed a departure for her, driving deeper, sharing intimate personal depths at a time of encompassing pain . . . And, though the songs don’t carry a burden of sadness for the listener, they do share a power of feeling and a lavender blush of melancholy and regret. It’s an album full of power and grace . . . it seems to me her sound has gone from grand to greater, lifted higher. Perhaps, the unwelcome seasoning of loss and the blessed spice of beginning has steeped the already powerful brew . . .”
There are so many lyrical passages on The Penny Collector that can be offered as proof of that but these words about her father from “And Then The Birds Came” seem fitting to quote:
And then the birds came
They took my dad away
It was so quiet
The world just came alive
My mama came alive
My brother came alive
That’s how my daddy lived
The birds they wanted him
They knew he’d help them fly
In keeping with the intent of this tour, the focus of this piece naturally rests on Carrie Elkin, but audiences will also be treated to a shorter set by Danny Schmidt and some shared stage time with Carrie and Danny performing together.
Writing for the Chicago Tribune, Midnight Special host Rich Warren included Danny Schmidt in his 50 Most Significant Songwriters in the Last 50 Years. Sing Out Magazine proclaimed Schmidt “perhaps the best new songwriter we’ve heard in the last 15 years.” Danny Schmidt is a 2007 winner of the prestigious Kerrville New Folk award, and is best known for his riveting poetic lyrics, which have drawn favorable comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt for their depth and complexity. Dirty Linen Magazine calls Danny Schmidt, “a stellar poet and musician, and media comparisons to a string of legends are not amiss.”
It’s a special treat when Danny and Carrie, who normally tour separately and solo, share the stage. It is just one of many great reasons why you should be sure to attend this concert.