Carolyn Mark is a little larger than life, a lushious and very talented wonder of nature from the land north of our border, where many musical treasures abound. In the record's title, she surely cannot be referring to herself, because she lets it all hang out, on a consistent basis. And it is a ballsy, outspoken kind of country music that is full of heart, rather than sentiment.
I've been meaning to get to her hometown of Victoria, B.C., for way too long now. I want to experience the people, and natural beauty like what is pictured in the four full color panels of the CD art, with the lyrics on the back. (You rarely see four panels of a beautiful evergreen-lined river with a remote farmhouse in the album art of a US artist.) I hope she'll show me where that is someday, and I'm tacking this up in the meantime, or framing it.
Just considering the names of her solo releases tells a portion of the story: Party Girl (2000), Terrible Hostess (2002), The Pros And Cons Of Collaboration (2004), Just Married: An Album Of Duets (2005), and now Nothing Is Free (2007).
CM did a lot of years at the outset of her career with The Vinaigrettes, and then a number of combos including the highly regarded Corn Sisters, a duo with the celebrated vocalist Neko Case. She is also known for hosting regular hootenanny nights with local and traveling luminaries in Victoria, and you can be sure that hosting understates the case. I've seen a lot of engaging photographs of the artist over the years, and rarely is the shot bare of libation.
To be convinced that you need the artist among your people, you need only consult the razor-witted bio at her website. To be convinced that you need this character in your collection, just sample the Listen page cuts like "The 1 That Got Away (With It)" and "Poisoned With Hope." She is essentially Canadian--to us that means a certain artistic integrity, a freedom unfettered by the business of music, and an uncorrupted quality we enjoy. She was last seen hanging out with a pirate in the Maritimes. Get this record. • Frank Goodman