There’s something to be said for subtlety, even when it appears to substitute for flash and finesse. After all, it’s often not a matter of how much music is thrown into the mix, but rather how it’s applied.
R. Wesley Carr seems to understand that fact, and even though Restless Wanderer represents the first outing on his own, it reflects the fact that his skills are already tastefully honed. An outstanding support crew offers added credence, as evidenced by the presence of Special Consensus’ Greg Cahill on banjo, IBMA winner Becky Buller on fiddle, and other players that boast equally sterling pedigrees. On the other hand, Carr shows he’s no slacker; he sings, plays mandolin, bass, banjo, and guitar, and has a hand in writing seven of the album’s ten tracks. The other three — covers of the stoic standards Cry Me a River, Move, and Such a Simple Thing — find a seamless fit within Carrs effortlessly engaging approach.
As a result, the music mostly comes as instantly accessible, with the effusive opener Cold & Uncaring, the extended instrumental, Indiana Fisher, and the delicate and dainty, Are You Loved? reflecting Carr’s obvious verve and versatility. Although the mood is mostly light and breezy, it doesn’t detract from the astute arrangements and the careful cohesion that each of the musicians contribute to the mix. It’s all easy on the ear, an adept example of what can result when the music is performed in a seemingly effortlessly way, as well as a fresh, free-spirited delivery that demands nothing more than a willingness to sit back and absorb it all.
That, of course, doesn’t belie Carr’s obvious ability and efforts to impress. A recent winner of the prestigious National Mandolin Championships in Winfield, Kansas, he’s demonstrated a talent that’s beyond reproach. Still, it’s his desire to engage his listeners rather than overwhelm them that makes one eager to follow this Restless Wanderer wherever the journey may take him.