Take every assumption about what it means to be a modern recording artist and stand it on its head, because that's exactly what Deana Carter has done with The Chain, her second Vanguard release. And in challenging the conventions of a business that has enabled her considerable artistic and commercial success, she's forever altered the path of her career and even her approach to music.
The original intent, however, wasn't quite so monumental. It was just a simple idea. "It's a record I've been wanting to do forever, doing songs he did and working with artists he worked with," she says. "It felt like the right time."
"He" is Fred Carter, Jr., her father and one of the most accomplished studio guitarists in history. His daughter, of course, turned her almost inborn passion for music into an impressive career of her own. The quintuple platinum explosion of her 1996 debut Did I Shave My Legs For This? led to a series of commercial and critical successes all framed by her unmistakable and quietly emotive voice. Her most recent offering is the well-received Vanguard debut Story Of My Life, released in 2005.
Going back and exploring the music she grew up around was a notion she'd always carried with her, but the process proved to be more of an education than she'd imagined. "When I started thinking about making this album at the end of 2006, I went to Amoeba in L.A." she says. "It's this killer record store with an archive where you can dig through actual albums, find the liner notes and look at credits. I was looking for things he'd worked on and, gosh, he's worked with everybody.
"I knew a lot of the folk, rock and pop stuff because that's what I was into when I was young," she explains. "I always knew the country was there because we lived in Nashville, but he also did Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan – things I was a little more into growing up."
Connecting all the dots, Deana found new appreciation for just how significant her father's contributions were. "He had a signature sound you hear in most of those records in the late sixties and seventies," she says. "All that guitar work is Dad on 'The Boxer' and 'El Paso' – that kind of acoustic, gut-string stuff. He played guitar, he played bass on some stuff. He was either a player or producer.
"He had a studio called Nugget Records in Nashville for a long time and that's kind of where we hung out most of my childhood; where most of these people were in and out. He ran ABC Records in Nashville for a little while back in the day. He's worn a lot of hats."
Like any other well-executed research project, the legwork was supplemented by the informational vortex of the internet. "I spent half my recording budget on iTunes downloading everything," she laughs. "There was so much time spent trying to learn this music – it was a task. There was a lot of information to try to sift through, but it was so worth it."
And then there was the source himself. "Researching the country stuff was really fun for me because I had to ask Dad about it," she says. "It's mind blowing all the great artists he's worked with. All the way from Eddy Arnold to Muddy Waters.
"I have the worst memory in the world and he would get to the point of being like, 'Stop asking me!' But the best way to get him going was to … Read More