His new cd, BRICKYARD ROAD, is a return to a more conventional approach: write songs, arrange them, and record them. The catch being that, as with DEPTH, all the instruments (drums, bass, piano, organ, mandolin, banjo, pedal-steel, and all varieties of guitar) are performed solely by Caleb, and this time there are vocals as well!
While gathered from a wide range of times and places, the songs on BRICKYARD ROAD share in their lyric content a poignant comment on the â€œAmerican Ethosâ€, that if one stays true to oneâ€™s dream all things good will come of it. While a fortunate few do indeed â€œfollow their dreamsâ€ to success, fame, or ultimate contentment, many more come to confront a dead-end, a cul-de-sac: some turn around and start over in a different direction, others merely give up; most must finally admit their â€œdreamsâ€ somehow got lost along the way, as they succumbed to the demands of survival: working to pay bills, providing for children, the swift disappearance of youth, the disappointment of a mundane existence. Doors that open for some remain closed to others, not to mention the tragic derailments and desperate circumstances that render â€œthe dreamâ€ completely irrelevant in countless peopleâ€™s lives.
The songs that comprise BRICKYARD ROAD address this issue by approaching it from many angles, from the neâ€™er-do-well character of â€œTroubleâ€ (â€œtried to build a fire/burned his hand in the flameâ€) to the discouraged hero in â€œHonest Tradeâ€ (â€œmaybe itâ€™s time to curb my expectations/unpack my blues where others had it madeâ€). â€œPerseveranceâ€ confronts the situation head-on, the singer sacrificing everything to climb â€œdestinyâ€™s mountainâ€ only to find, once the summit is reached, â€œyet another great mountain, and behind that still yet anotherâ€.
Along the way we meet an unfortunate naif who is hanged for killing his sweetheartâ€™s lover (â€œMurder Balladâ€), and a â€œSad Old Rockâ€™nâ€™Rollerâ€ who â€œplays guitar at the corner bar/for free beer and spare changeâ€. The album resolves with â€œRambling Roadâ€, which states simply that if you are looking for wealth, fame, true love, or enlightenment, youâ€™d best steer clear of the twisted path the singer travelsâ€¦â€thereâ€™s no love on this lonely road/that leads nowhereâ€.
Yet perhaps it is the road itself, rather than the goal of our â€œdreamâ€, that provides the answer to this quest for fulfillment. Once we put aside the search for something beyond ourselves for salvation, redemption, contentment, happiness, prosperityâ€¦maybe then we find those very things were in our knapsack all along, ready to be discovered at any point along the journey. â€œIâ€™ve not found my one true love/wealth or fame Iâ€™ve none/but Iâ€™ve walked this endless road/I still ainâ€™t doneâ€. Perhaps life is what it is, and the obsessive searching for something â€œmoreâ€ only obscures the fact that life is but a precious collection of moments, good and bad, to be savored for the experience of them rather than measured against the yardstick of societyâ€™s implied expectations.
All of this is comfortably contained within the framework of solid, well-crafted songs. There are a couple country-tinged tunes replete with pedal-steel and twanging Telecasters, bluesy songs with suitably tasteful
work-outs on electric and acoustic guitar, and plenty of rootsy rockâ€™nâ€™roll drawn from the deep well of Americaâ€™s rich musical heritageâ€¦all impeccably performed by Caleb Miles and sung in his â€œsandpaper angelâ€ voice. BRICKYARD ROAD is good fun to listen to as well as providing food for thought for the philosophically peckish. Enjoy!
3. Murder Ballad
4. Honest Trade
5. Just Rewards
7. Sad Old Rock'n'roller
8. Tell Tale Blues
9. The Splinter & the Rail
11. Rambling Road