In a time of worldwide crisis, here is a brutally honest record of suffering and survival that reminds us that we can get through the darkest of days and return to the light.
By John Lavitt
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 05/05/2020 – In a rugged baritone, C.M. Talkington reveals an unswerving truth on “Not Exactly Nashville” — an undeniably powerful new record of prophetic modern Texas anthems. On the album cover, now available for purchase in multiple formats on Amazon and many other platforms, C.M. Talkington’s face emerges from the darkness, etched and worn like an Indian medicine man from the badlands of history. Like a prophet traveling through time to save our souls, the singer-songwriter delivers a bevy of beautiful songs infused with suffering and redemption.
Indeed, it feels like C.M. Talkington has dropped into our world to give us these songs at a time when we desperately need the roots of ancient music to save us from the darkness of the night. After all, music began around the communal fires that protected homo sapiens from the predators lurking in the darkness, the big cats that fed on the plains of our ancestral lands. When you come face-to-face with C.M. Talkington, as I have had the visceral satisfaction to do so many times over the past three decades, his gaze is unforgettable. Although I have always known him as Carty Talkington since our days at Brown University, whatever you call this man is not the point. Rather, it’s the undeniable power of that gaze.
Thus, Carty’s eyes look at you with the deep confidence and wisdom of a man who has something profound to tell the world. He is a man who has lived through the kind of pain and hardships that have revealed to him a deeper truth. On this record in sound and on C.M. Talkington’s Instagram in pictures, you behold his wider vision of the universe, more profound and clear than most of us might ever find on our own. Without any questions or doubts, I declare that Talkington’s record is here to share that truth with the world. Indeed, Carty is here to enlighten us, to save us, and to liberate us from our bondage to the corrupting ideologies of our modern capitalistic, materialistic times. His beautifully crafted songs are delivered with a voice that resonates from the depths of his soul. Even more, Talkington’s voice seems to come from the depths of our collective soul.
Produced and engineered by Cisco DeLuna, “Not Exactly Nashville” (Birs Recording) is more than just a collection of songs: this record is a clarion call, a visionary sermon of hope for a world that has gone astray. Talkington reaches out his hand and asks us to join him around the fire. The first song – Watching the Blind – is designed to break through our blindness and open our eyes. A big song on a record full of big ideas, these are not your typical songs of egotistical pain, but rather ballads that point out and reflect on the plight of the whole human race. On Ghost, Talkington reminds us of all of what has been lost and hovers around our lives. The songwriter prays all day long because he fears that he has become a ghost long before death. He fears that what is substantial has been lost in our world.
Carty’s songs are connected to the river of the spirit, a river that runs past the pain and into a future where he envisions a better tomorrow for all of us. Masterfully produced, the record is a testament of what can be achieved when you do not fear what is raw and naked in musical expression. No programmed drums, no pitch tuned vocals. A band of crackerjack musicians playing from the heart, Talkington’s fellow players embrace the journey of this musical odyssey into the light.
Led by Talkington’s driving acoustic guitar, the heartbeat and bedrock to all the songs, the other players find their groove. In Given Sight, the bass lines by James Carter are restrained, melodic, and beautiful. On Brand New Skin, the inventive rifts of Cisco De Luna’s pedal steel guitar drive the music forward like a wagon train through a thunderstorm. On Gonna Rain, the great anthem of this record, John Hofer’s drums foster just the right atmosphere for Carty to do a rain dance for the modern world. The song invokes the coming of a new age where humanity is freed from delusion as the cleansing power of nature is embraced: “Wash away doubt, guilt, fear, pain, wash away your name, wash away your fame.”
To experience it firsthand beyond the record, check out C.M. Talkington’s YouTube Channel. As you will see and hear, on each of these songs, there’s nothing between Carty’s soul and the listener. His voice resonates with a kind of truth rarely captured on recordings. This is a voice forged in the flames of experience. The barriers to the deepest truth have been burned away, scorched, battered by years of deep soul searching. And this record reveals this utterly human soul of a man who has gone through the crucible of suffering to find a sliver of redemption in all its naked purity.