Carsie Blanton
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Carsie Blanton

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States

New Orleans, Louisiana, United States
Pop Folk

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"Idiot Heart Album Review"

Carsie Blanton has a vision for her first tour with a full band.

"I wanna be the girl in a beautiful dress with, like, a bunch of handsome men in suits behind her," she says. "Kind of classic, like the big band days. I wanna be like Billie Holiday. But healthier. No heroin addiction."

As visions go, it's relatively realistic. With her mass of curls, coy vocal delivery and dancer's physique, Blanton is a reliably charming performer, and she's told her four-man band to dress to the nines. But here she is, a few weeks before playing five East Coast shows to herald the release of Idiot Heart, and she's not looking so healthy. Venturing out to B2 on Passyunk after a bout with the flu, the singer-songwriter gamely discusses her new record and her new economic model over the din of old Madonna tunes and a screechy espresso machine.

Another sort of unhealthiness is evident on Blanton's third full-length album. Idiot Heart is full of fast-talking men who are quick to walk away and swivel-hipped women who keep chasing the last thing they need. Love gone wrong's nothing new for the characters in her songs. But where the dreamers on 2005's Ain't So Green drown their disappointments in tasteful jazz pop and the mismatched lovers on 2009's Buoy work out their kinks on the dancefloor, these idiots' caustic lines are things that might ring in your ear after yet another unsatisfying night in a noisy bar.

"Well, it doesn't take a lot to get you started/ And I don't know how to turn you back off," Blanton sings on the title track. "I guess there ain't no rest for the idiot-hearted/ Until your heart finally stops." Cue Rob Hyman's jumpy organ.

Idiot Heart lets no one off the hook — not the control freaks, and not their misused misses. "I try to write about it from both perspectives, which is that, yes, there's this powerful, abusive man," Blanton says, "but there's also this woman who's seeking that kind of relationship. And continually seeking it, over and over again, as I think a lot of us do."

Though the Luray, Va., native now lives in South Philly with her longtime boyfriend, she went farther south to delve into the darker side of love. In May, she wrapped up songwriting in New Orleans; in July, she headed to Oliver Wood's studio in Atlanta, where they cut the basic tracks live.

But what happened in between was just as important: In June, Blanton — unlike so many of the women in her songs — wised up. She stopped chasing record labels that were unwilling to commit and instead found backers she didn't have to beg.

"I wrote a letter to my fans, saying, 'If you want to invest in my next record, send me an email.' And I got a huge response. I was really surprised. The full budget was $30,000 from start to finish, and I ended up asking six investors for $5,000 each, and they did it. So I raised the money actually much more quickly than I expected to. Within a month, I had the money promised."

Her investors — from Philly, Boston and Washington, D.C. — included some fans who'd talked to her at shows and a few she'd never met. Blanton says she was happily surprised to learn that people thought their money was safer in the hands of an independent musician than in the stock market.

So far, everything's worked out. Though Idiot Heart's official release date is Jan. 31, Blanton brought the CDs along when she opened for Paul Simon in November and sold nearly 450 copies — using her "pay what you please" model. Rather than set a price for her music, she lets listeners determine what it's worth to them.

"I had several people just give me all the money they had," she says. "They were like, 'Well, I have $33. There you go.' I had people pay me with euros and pounds. I had people pay me with rolls of quarters."

Not everyone pays the going rate for CDs — whatever that is these days — and that's fine with Blanton. "The problem in the music industry is not that people aren't buying albums as much as they used to," she maintains. "It's that we ever made music a commodity in the first place." And why should music be accessible only to those who have money to spare or those who know they're going to love that album once they get it home?

Still, she says, it all balances out. "I've actually made as much money as I made with a set price, and a little bit more, because more people buy CDs."

But those CDs wouldn't be worth much if not for her way with words and melodies. See for yourself on Saturday. She'll be the economic theorist in the beautiful dress.
- Philadelphia City Paper


"Carsie Blanton Hits One Out of the Park"

CARSIE BLANTON
Album review: "Idiot Heart"

Luray, Va., native Carsie Blanton has hit one out of the park.

The singer-songwriter's third album, "Idiot Heart," is funny. It's tender. It's cute. It's edgy. It's fresh. It's folksy without crossing into the realm of kitsch. The songs are clean, most with basic instrumentation and succinct arrangements, but each track bursts with its own pithy,
poignant commentary on that ficklest of organs for which the album is named.

Blanton's voice is lovely in its earnestness, but the album is more a vehicle for story and songwriting. The singer, now based in Philadelphia, has an uncanny sense for lyric. Her style is conversational and direct - even gleefully sarcastic at times - but it's also poetic and never overly loquacious. When paired with her understated vocals, it's a winning combination. In one particularly artful passage of the song "Chicken," she sings: "Loving you is like a hungry belly, empty as a whiff of smoke / Kissing you is like an open deli and I'm completely broke / You got a heart like a wire cage, I got a heart like a bird / All day long it sings your praise but I don't think you heard."

At times, the songs can feel a bit formulaic - once you've heard the first verse and chorus you can pretty much bet there won't be many surprises around the bend. But it doesn't matter. This is classic songwriting at its best.

--Jess Righthand, Jan. 20, 2012 - Washington Post


"Gene Shay Quote"

"In all truth, she blew me away!" - Gene Shay, WXPN Radio


"Doylestown Intelligencer"

"The gamine 21-year-old possesses a genuine sweetness that easily engages. Whether she’s breezily recounting her childhood days roaming the rural Virginia town of Luray with the dogs, signing off her e-mail blasts with whimsical phrases such as “tidings of joy and twitterpation� or swooning over the appeal of men who can swing dance in song, she conveys a natural effervescence that speaks to an openhearted approach to life."
- Naila Francis


"FAME Review"

"Ain't So Green, Carsie Blanton's second CD, (Her first, Hush, came upon the world when she was all of 16) is a tuneful, playful, and thoroughly listenable confection no matter what age or degree of cynicism you happen to find yourself at." - David N. Pyles, FAME (Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange)


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

Carsie is a young singer-songwriter who grew up in rural Virginia and landed in Philadelphia in fall of 2006. Since then, her soulful, playful, intelligent music has earned her international respect.

In her brief time as a performing songwriter, Carsie has toured extensively throughout the U.S. as a headliner, and as tour support for Paul Simon, Shawn Colvin, Bruce Hornsby, Joan Osborne, The Weepies, Loudon Wainwright III, John Oates, The Wood Brothers and others.

In 2011, Carsie performed a live set on the nationally syndicated NPR program “Mountain Stage”, returned to Europe for her second time as a performing songwriter, and joined Paul Simon to open several dates on his “So Beautiful or So What” tour.

In January of 2012, Carsie released her third studio album, Idiot Heart, produced by Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers. The Washington Post says “Idiot Heart is funny. It's tender. It's cute. It's edgy. It's fresh. It's folksy without crossing into the realm of kitsch. Each track bursts with its own pithy, poignant commentary on that ficklest of organs for which the album is named.” (Jess Righthand)