Carly Dow :: Ingrained


By Natalie Bohrn

There is hardly a line on Carly Dow’s album Ingrained that isn’t worth twisting around in your mind like a skein of yarn to find its true beginning and end. “I’m a fly on the wall of the earth,” sings Dow, a lifelong observer of nature of all kinds. This music has true roots in long studies of weather, earth, green growth and the seasons of life. “Soil To Dust,” the first single, is the kind of song Ani DiFranco would have righteously penned if she had worked closely for years with The Crooked Brothers and the husky wilderness of Manitoba, as Carly has, with deeply grooving drumbeat, richly intricate finger-picking banjo, and the dark descent of a violin. “Not A Songbird” and “Casanova” sit on the spare side, and portray a mightily vulnerable and gentle figure; “I’ll be the wind at your back, I’ll be the ground at your feet, come on baby, walk all over me…. I’m not a songbird, I am a crow, and I’ll call to you….” Carly Dow calls up all kinds of animals and stormy weather to exemplify her most profound experiences. In the folk tradition of political song, “Ingrained” is deeply lined by Carly’s environmental and social stances. However, she refrains from pointing the finger, only sharing her deep personal fears: “I don’t want to see the day where everything has changed too much to go back,” and “If North is up as the arrow says, my hometown still bleeds at the head.”  A living, breathing album with sweeping arrangements of cello and pedal steel, moaning harmonica and waltzing bass, Ingrained rests on the ringing truth of Carly Dow’s dark and poignant writing.