Cheryl Cawood is readying for the release of her upcoming debut solo studio album. It’s titled Bullet in the Cabin Wall and drops on May 20th. But first, for those of you not yet familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
Galveston, Texas-based Cheryl Cawood is an American singer-songwriter, and musician. According to her official website, the Kentucky-raised crooner’s rockin’ resume includes two previous releases and numerous live performances. Cawood “advocates for social change surrounding issues of mental illness, poverty and how these relate to drug abuse and addiction.”
Cheryl Cawood’s signature sound is a blend of folk, rock, and rockabilly music. She describes it as “Kentucky jams melded with jangly folk-rock.” Her influences include Iris Dement, Stevie Nicks, Bonnie Raitt, and Lucinda Williams.
Bullet in the Cabin Wall
Bullet in the Cabin Wall is a 12-song album of both covers and emotive originals. On this album, Cawood leads the way on vocals and guitar. She is backed by an assortment of other artists including Jack Saunders (upright bass, mandolin, mandola, banjo, guitars, and background vocals), Rick Richards (percussion), Eleonore Whitmore (fiddle), and Michael Bobbitt (piano). On this disc, Cawood works hard to take listeners back through the mists of time, back to where she grew up.
Track by Track
The album opens on the effective titular track “Bullet in the Cabin Wall.” This is her first original here and focuses on the history of her feuding “Appalachian family.” The more you know about this area, the more you can appreciate it.
The second selection, “L&N Don’t Stop Here”, is but the first emotive example of what Cawood can do with someone else’s song. Although it was written by Jean Ritchie, it is nonetheless quite appropriate to the big picture here. She makes it her own too.
“Makin’ Corn Liquor” was co-written with Peggy Brinker and David Bruce. Not only does the subject tie in with the rest of the material here, but it also demonstrates how well she works with others. (If you haven’t already, get out the whiskey and get in the proper musical mood here.)
The next number is “Coalfield Woman.” It is written by Tim Henderson but Cawood’s heart and history allow her to own it. Undoubtedly, her roots helped her make the song her own. After all, the old Cawood settlement dates back to the 1700s and would go on to be the home of many migrant coal workers who lived in the different camps “in Harlan County, Kentucky when the big fossil fuel industry boomed.”
“Ballad of Spade Cooley” was co-written with Jack Saunders. Here Cawood tells the tuneful, torrid tale of Spade Cooley, the frontman of an old western swing band from the perspective of none other than Satan. This is also another one of those back porch song-stories perfect for a motion picture soundtrack.
“Deep Down in Your Bones” is another of Cawood’s original tunes. It’s a personalized “married-too-early”, “too-many-mouths-too-feed” and “too-many-bad-choices” cautionary cuts. Cawood recently commented on the song’s meaning saying: “This is a tune about a mother and daughter’s strained relationship and how the mother’s choices reflect on her daughter.”
“Coming Home” is also an original Cawood cut. This one is also another one ready-made for a soundtrack. Her signature sound remains steady and true.
“Shady Grove” is Cawood’s tuneful take on the traditional old Appalachian folk song that harkens back to eastern Kentucky in the early 1900s. It’s both historic and entertaining.
“Running Out of Time” is the second and last song Cawood co-wrote with Saunders. More importantly, it is an early fave of both fans and critics alike. The approach remains genuine as Cawood’s musical jaunt through the hills continues.
The aptly flowing “Down The Ohio” is the final Cawood original on the album. Her tunes were inspired by friends, family, and history. She has respect for her roots.
Also included here is Cawood’s adaptation of Michael Bobbitt’s upbeat “Crossing Mountains.” Again, while a few of the songs on this disc are not written by Cawood, she has chosen wisely and uses her love, knowledge, and talent to make everything fit into the album’s overall theme.
The closing cut is “Daddy’s Hometown” which she co-wrote with Bobbitt. It serves as one final example of how well Cawood lovingly works to musically present the big picture.
Overall, this album is an exceptional example of Cawood’s songwriting abilities and overall musical style. Here she explores imperfect relationships, local lore, the influence of the Kentucky hills, and her rustic ancestral history via a select compilation of original compositions and specifically selected cover cuts. So, check out Cheryl Cawood’s Bullet in the Cabin Wall and feel her music “Deep Down in Your Bones.”