Country artists generally fall into two easily distinguished categories: the dominant is radio-fried country which is potentially more derivative than Top 40 pop in its most egregious recycling of predictable elements into formula. Then you have the others, who remember that at one point in its history, country derived from true rural traditions of folk and Old Time music. Generally speaking, it’s clear from the first note whether you are dealing with mere contrivance or something natural and organic.
With Caleb Stine, you never question his sincerity. Every word and note feels like a naked, soul-bared moment. Caleb’s music is something like an oasis here in Baltimore, intensely warm and personal moments amidst the stark cold and disaffection of fast-paced urban life. Instead of focusing outward on bewildering experimentalism, he focuses inward on stellar, precise and intimate songwriting. From the piercing gaze Caleb shoots from the cover down to his steady cadence and tempo, his unfaltering vocals, everything about Eyes So Strong And Clean (his first solo outing, though many Brakemen make appearances) compels you to take pause, to contemplate and reflect. And this time, packing a bit more punch thanks to a brand-new electric Epiphone.