Carrie Rodriguez – Give Me All You Got


It’s getting to be that time. The time of year when the hotels are booked and the new walking shoes get broken in. All roads lead to SXSW, and if you’re a fan of local music anywhere, this festival is like heaven. All the best unknown talent from around the world comes right here to Austin to show off their stuff, alongside much of the best that Austin has to offer. Though a lot of our favorite bands are not officially showcasing (which leaves them available for the OVRLD unofficial showcase! More on that coming up…), many are, and we’ll be previewing a lot of those artists in the coming month.

First up, though, is an artist I’ve been listening to for a couple of weeks now: Carrie Rodriguez. Austin is great at churning out country-folk chanteuses – Sahara Smith, Sarah Jarosz, Suzanna Choffel, Carrie Elkin and Brennan Leigh are all recent examples of this kind of singer – and Carrie Rodriguez is no exception. The difference is that Rodriguez has a bit of Ruby Jane in her as well; she’s an acclaimed violinist/fiddler trained at the prestigious Berklee School of Music (having also put in time with the Oberlin Conservatory). On Give Me All You Got, Rodriguez has put together her third album of original material, and her first one since moving back to Austin – her hometown – after a decade of living in the Big Apple.

Rodriguez kisses off her old home in the wonderfully bouncy “Brooklyn” (“Nothing wrong with a little clean air / And a brand new start”…which isn’t delivered as sappily as that reads), a song that comes near the end of an album of personal dramas. “I Cry for Love” is a modern country track (read: it has a Southern rock edge to it) about standing tough as long as you can, while “Get Back in Love” is a gorgeous, shimmering lullaby about resurrecting a dormant relationship (“It only takes the right country song”) that is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Rodriguez is comfortable wearing a lot of hats across this record from an emotional standpoint, and it allows her songs to connect on a much more visceral level than some of her peers’.

The music, as well, is mostly engaging from a rootsy, country perspective. Lead track “The Devil in Mind” is catchy, and features the fiddle, electric piano and twangy electric guitar that add color to the tracks across the whole record. Rodriguez’s musicality is highlighted in “Devil”‘s instrumental reprise later in the album as each of those three aforementioned instruments gets to trade off on soloing over the now-familiar chord changes.

Give Me All You Got is not without its mis-steps. “Sad Joy” is a plodding track that kills the momentum “Devil in Mind” starts off with, and is way too adult contemporary for my taste (it sounds like a song tailor-made for our parents). The duet with guitarist Luke Jacobs that closes the album, “I Don’t Mind Waiting,” seems an odd way to conclude an album that has been so personal for Rodriguez. For the most part, though, the album holds together nicely. Even a filler track like “Whiskey Runs Thicker Than Blood” is quite pleasant. At its best, Give Me All You Got showcases a great Austin singer-songwriter getting back in touch with her voice and showing off the styles in which she can do it.

– Carter Delloro