Carsie Blanton hasn’t lived her life like the most of us — and because of it, she sees the world in ways we probably all should... A self-declared socialist, all of this “unconventional” living (at least according to capitalist structures, as she often points out) has led to an equally unconventional approach in her music, where she tackles gender expectations, genre norms, societal expectations and sex through songs that are as smart and funny as they are well-constructed. Her new album, Buck Up, “is about two different kinds of edginess: a sexual one and political edginess. It’s an expression of the fact that I don’t give as much of a damn about making people comfortable as I used to.”
Like the singer-songwriters she admires, Carsie Blanton is making folk-based music that prizes wordplay and an antic sense of humor. You can hear jazz, Motown and power pop in her melodies and phrasing, which makes her stuff delightfully surprising but doesn't help her in commercial categorization.
Carsie Blanton has a high voice that floats up into curly Qs of pointed pleasure. Her tone never becomes cute because she phrases with such purpose. And what she's talking about is almost always earthy if not downright down and dirty.
Carsie Blanton bursts with ideas and opinions. If you go to her website, you'll encounter blog posts from a sex-positive point of view alongside meticulously reasoned pieces about the #MeToo movement in the music industry. "Buck Up" came out in late February. And since that time, I keep coming back to it, finding new things to appreciate about it. "Buck Up" is shaping up to be one of my favorite albums of the year.
Blanton is a fan of artists as diverse as The Beatles and Tom Waits, and that wide range is evident in her own work. She's quick to point out that she hates genre, and equates making music to making love, stating that “If you only know one way to do it, you must not be very good at it.” Well, Blanton again has proved here that she is fantastic at making eclectic music, so we can all draw our own conclusions about the rest of that analogy.
On August 2nd, New Orleans-based chanteuse Carsie Blanton welcomes a new album, So Ferocious. The cover art for the forthcoming album, a sketch of a mostly-naked Blanton cuddling with a large lion, embodies everything about Blanton that makes her worth writing about. A strong, sexy female with no issues speaking her mind and subverting the sexist tropes that often trap “chick singer-songwriters,” Blanton’s music smolders with moxie, combining the understated vocal quality of Billie Holiday with the folk-pop songwriting of artists like Anais Mitchell and Paul Simon.
Carsie Blanton’s hometown of New Orleans has always been something of a musical melting pot, producing a sound that is as diverse as it is distinctive. Yet while most will often think of cajun, old time jazz and blues when considering the New Orleans sound, Blanton creates a different kind of, well, gumbo. Her music settles in the pop realm, infused with jazz elements and even a little Broadway-style panache.
Blanton sings with a captivating sweetness and an attitude that somehow manages to be simultaneously affable and brash. Aside from the splendor of her voice, the former quality comes from the frequently lush and cheerful arrangements of some songs on So Ferocious.
"Blanton is set to throw a brick through the Man’s corner office with her empowered feminist lyrics. Her new album entitled “So Ferocious” pretty much sums it up. But, don’t let the focus on revolutionizing societal structure make you assume the music has to suffer for the message. Carsie Blanton makes fun music. It make you laugh, it makes you dance. Sure, it makes you say “Screw you, world!” but so do so many of the real greats."
"Blanton's conversationally clever, and her vocal phrasing is jazzy and promiscuous, too. That's the kind of playful, agile intelligence you can expect from the New Orleans-hailing singer-songwriter.”
Carsie Blanton has hit one out of the park. The singer-songwriter's third album, "Idiot Heart," is funny. It's tender. It's cute. It's edgy. It's fresh. It's folksy without crossing into the realm of kitsch. The songs are clean, most with basic instrumentation and succinct arrangements, but each track bursts with its own pithy, poignant commentary on that ficklest of organs for which the album is named.
Carsie Blanton‘s sexy, enigmatic vocals are ideally suited to the American popular songbook, a.k.a. pop music written for adults in the age before youth so thoroughly dominated popular culture. She treats each note like another flirtatious look towards the object of her affection as the lazy notes flutter down gently and easy.
It might seem counterintuitive for one of Americana’s best modern songwriters to take on the Great (Old) American Songbook, especially one who’s best known for moving between folk and rock, but since Blanton’s originals have always been teasingly playful about the war between the sexes, the battlefront in the sheets is a natural place for her to file a report. Rarely does a little something sound both so inviting and this deep.
So Ferocious is Carsie Blanton's best pop album yet; it’s so many things, infectious and light, virile and tough, fragile and strong, yet throughout, empathic to the silent suffering and righteous connections we as humans almost accidentally experience.
Carsie Blanton is a rare talent as a modern songwriter, her sly wit and urbane imagery reminds me of a female Cole Porter. She paints a vivid landscape with lyrics that are deceptively conversational and at the same time surprisingly perceptive for a relatively new artist. I'm really happy to know that classic songwriting is in good hands with Carsie Blanton.
In September, Carsie appeared on NPR's syndicated program Song Travels with Michael Feinstein. Hear the full interview here:
The ep’s title should give more than subtle hints as to Blanton’s attitude and verve. Her songs abound with swagger and flair. Best of all they just ooze fun.