Let’s start with a simple introduction this time around. The Carousels are a band from Scotland and Sail Me Home St. Clair is their second album. Looking at the album cover, you’d expect a ton of whiskey flowing around and a bunch of sea shanties. The whiskey might have been flowing around in jugs but sea shanties are nowhere to be found. You see, The Carousels sound like one of the better 70s style country rock bands from the West Coast with all these gentle strumming guitars, pedal steels, and ever-expanding harmonies. Scottish weather is not exactly known for too many sunny, balmy days but you wouldn’t guess it by listening to this album.
You can ask yourself then what is that boat from a few centuries ago doing on the cover? My guess would be, combining it with the title, that this dreamboat of theirs is to take them where they spiritually feel at home. With all the constellations above, maybe it could fly them there.
And it definitely should. The moment Josephine opens the album you realize where this music is taking you. If you ever thought what it would sound like if Gene Clark and/or Gram Parsons joined in harmony with the American Beauty/Workingman’s Dead era Grateful Dead, this is the direction The Carousels pursue on this album. And they do it well. Damn well. Take any track here—Silvio or Little Darlin’ for example—you get these great picking guitars, pedal steels and other country rock paraphernalia and some quite gorgeous harmonies that dominate practically every number on the album. And then, if you need any further country rock references, how about a song titled "New Morning," which is the homage to Dylan’s similar musical period as it is titled after the album of the same. And yet another title twist—"Dylan’s The Man In Me" from the same album seems to be the inspiration for the "Man Ou Of Me."
Their musical archive and memory seem to run quite deep. You can also hear traces of bands like Poco ("Lord Speed My Hurricane") and melodic changes quite close to a certain Mr. Neil Young circa his Harvest album ("Like A Loaded Gun"). Still, they give everything an added modern veneer, not akin to the "real" Californians like Beechwood Sparks. They do also give everything a fitting lyrical touch that both cover their adopted Californian and real home Scottish base, and in a few words encapsulates their approach (with a bit of a tongue in cheek):
“Goodbye summer sun
I do not long for yesterday
autumn has begun
so many colors on display” ("Lord Speed My Hurricane")
So you might say, tons of bands are attempting to recreate this sound and at some point, such music can become tedious. The thing is though that these Scotsmen have got the sound down to a pat, their singing and playing is of an excellent standard, and what is more, at no point do their tunes and melodies drop below a high standard of being extremely enjoyable. They seem to have immersed themselves in the sounds and harmonies of the West Coast Seventies rock completely and play it as it is their own. Ok, in a way, it is a recreation, but it is one with a great twist of being extremely enjoyable. And you definitely have to be very good to achieve that.
If you’re in doubt what music should accompany you through a hot summer day or, something to bring some cool at night, you hardly have to go any further than The Carousels and their Sail Me Home St. Clair album.