Carolina Rain are all about harmony. On its debut album for Clint Black's label, the country trio spends considerably more time in harmony than out of it, and, well, you would too if your voice blended as purely with those of your pals. There's no pretense here: Carolina Rain aren't a rock band hidden behind cowboy hats. Their backgrounds are in bluegrass, gospel, and mainstream country, and their chosen instruments are acoustic guitar, mandolin, and banjo. That's not to imply that they are unflappable purists, however. "I Ain't Scared," with its solid drum/bass backbone, has a funky kick to it, and "That's Alright with Me," layered with full band instrumentation, won't feel unfamiliar to a fan of the early Eagles or Neil Young. But Carolina Rain are at their most effective when they keep it all close, pickin' their acoustic instruments and bringing those voices together. The rich textures of "Who Needs the Sun," the exquisite album closer, remind as much of the Beach Boys' sunny harmonies as anything Nashville has to offer, and on "Get Outta My Way," the only track on the album not written at least partially by a bandmember (it's credited to the album's producer, Robert Ellis Orrall, and Curtis Wright) finds the trio so seamlessly entwined that the individual voices simply fuse into one. Lead vocalist and guitarist Rhean Boyer -- the others are Jeremy Baxter, tenor harmony and mandolin, and Marvin Evatt, low harmony, guitar, and banjo -- holds his own commendably when called upon to take charge, but Carolina Rain don't truly show their strength until all three come together and find their rightful place within a song.
Weather the Storm Review
by Jeff Tamarkin