Hindsight 20/20

by Carlene Carter

Released September 10, 1996
Giant Records
Released September 10, 1996
Giant Records
"For most of the last two decades, Carlene Carter has roared and rocked Nashville's socks off and sometimes we've taken her for granted. 'Hindsight 20/20' reminds us just how much we'd miss her if she wasn't around to brighten our lives." COUNTRY WEEKLY
1. Sweet Meant To Be (Carlene Carter / Howie Epstein)
2. I Fell In Love (Carlene Carter / Howie Epstein / Benmont Tench / Perry Lamek)
3. Every Little Thing (Carlene Carter / Al Anderson)
4. Unbreakable Heart (Benmont Tench)
5. Come On Back (Carlene Carter)
6. Me And The Wildwood Rose (Carlene Carter)
7. Never Together But Close Sometimes (Rodney Crowell)
8. Cry (Carlene Carter)
9. The Sweetest Thing (Carlene Carter / Robert Ellis Orrall)
10. Baby Ride Easy (Richard Dobson)
11. I Love You 'Cause I Want To (Carlene Carter / Radney Foster)
12. I'm So Cool (Carlene Carter)
13. He Will Be Mine (Carlene Carter / Al Anderson)
14. Hurricane (Carlene Carter / Al Anderson)
15. Change (Carlene Carter)
16. Trust Yourself (Bob Dylan)
17. One Tender Night (Carlene Carter / Benmont Tench)
18. It's No Wonder (Why I Love Him) (Carlene Carter)
19. Love Like This (Mary Ann Kennedy / Pam Rose / Pat Bunch)
20. Easy From Now On (Carlene Carter / Susanna Clark)

Produced by Howie Epstein; Bob Andrews and Brinsley Schwarz; Nick Lowe; Carlene Carter and James Stroud; Carlene Carter; Lance Quinn and Tony Bongiovi.
Photography - Randee St. Nicholas.

(****) Country music would be a duller place without Carlene Carter. "Hindsight 20/20" is a 21-track retrospective (20 in the U.S.) covering two decades of music, all of which exudes genuine spark and personality. "Hindsight 20/20" is the sound of 20 years well spent.

(***1/2) "Foresight 20/20" might make a better title for this collection marking Carlene Carter's 20th year of recording. The cool thing about this retrospective is seeing how much her style was already defined years before the world-at-large caught on to Carter's charms. If this set proves anything, it's just how prophetic her once-rebellious musical experiments were when it came to the future of country music. Rather than finally going commercial, Carter instead kept refining her craft until country music caught up with her. It's still too early in Carter's career for her to be genuinely anthologized (though she'll no doubt make for a helluva boxed set). After all, "Hindsight 20/20" still proves that this scion of country music's first family is keeping their ground-breaking family tradition alive, and that the Carter name will have a special resonance in contemporary country for some time to come.

Carlene Carter has never feared challenge or change. Sometimes the hunger that fuels her artistic ambition has led the eternally youthful daughter of country music legends Carl Smith and June Carter across the Atlantic -- as it did in the late '70s -- and sometimes it's led her across America, as it did earlier this year on the Kraft tour as a concert co-headliner with Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan. "Hindsight 20/20" is the macaroni-and-cheese of Carlene's wonder years: a celebration of her first two decades as a recording artist. Selections for this 20-song package range from her reggae-flavored 1978 Rodney Crowell cover "Never Together But Close Sometimes" through the rockabilly spunk of 1995's "Hurricane." Blessed with a powerful set of pipes that can purr 'n' growl with country's finest, this release re-affirms Carlene's fiery spirit, a lethal combination of cheerleader and cherub. Her voice's capability of elevating a song to a higher emotional plane by its sheer presence -- witness the near a cappella climax of "Sweet Meant To Be" or her sunny warbling during her Top 5 country-rock twist "I Fell In Love" -- is unique among female country singers. For most of the last two decades, Carlene Carter has roared and rocked Nashville's socks off and sometimes we've taken her for granted. "Hindsight 20/20" reminds us just how much we'd miss her if she wasn't around to brighten our lives.

To be called Carter is the country music equivalent of a coat of arms and an entry in Burke's Peerage. Yet Carlene arrived in post-punk London sounding like the newest girl on the block. Early cuts on this retrospective compilation feature her with Dave Edmunds and her husband for a spell, Nick Lowe, breathing rock'n'roll fire into the format. Her 1980 duet with Edmunds, "Baby Ride Easy," is a sly and feisty delight: "And if we arm-wrestled, I'd say that you won!" Later songs, like the Grammy-nominated "I Fell In Love," suggest the family genes have not stopped working their magic.

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