Veteran songwriter and performer Carrie Newcomer has created another album for these times. Whether the struggles we face are deeply personal or political, this collection of songs about beginnings and endings; grief and healing; and, always, hope reflects the truth about struggle, loss, and picking up the pieces to start again. It is a fundamentally grown-up perspective that doesn’t sugarcoat or blame or ignore reality. It’s not right to call this (her nineteenth album) deeper than her other work, as her decades of work have always lived at the intersection of the personal, spiritual, and community truths. This time around, though, her songs aren’t the stories of individuals or herself but instead roadmaps for each of us to make it through the hard times.
Newcomer is a longtime Quaker, and familiar themes often make their way into her songs, but this time the spirituality is boiled down to basics, essentials like “within us and between us is everything we need.” It’s less inspiring and more a reminder of basic truths, things that cannot be denied or ignored in the most challenging times. As someone who has faced a number of personal struggles in the recent past, I welcome it as a handbook, grounded in reality and listening for Spirit.
Newcomer has sometimes veered a bit far into country instrumentation for my taste, but this album is solidly back in folk territory, with a welcome hint of Americana that points to her home in southern Indiana. This style suits the clear, simple truth-telling of the songwriting.
Newcomer’s recent work is certainly influenced by her collaborative community work with Parker J. Palmer, including their joint podcast, The Growing Edge. (Learn more and listen at newcomerpalmer.com.)