Drum Hat Buddha

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer

Of all the concerts I missed last year, the one I regret most was offered by these two splendid performers at Moxie’s Café.

Why regrets? Because Dave Carter, who writes the tunes, is a terrific poet whose words sing and dance together, whose songs surprise and tease and never bore as they tell their stories. Because he and Tracy Grammer have splendid voices and sing together like the lovers they are, and she works the fiddle like a magician. Because the musicians who’ve joined them on this album play as if they know what a work of art they are creating.

They call their music “postmodern mythic American music,” and that’s as apt a description as any, I suppose. It’s eclectic in its mix of folk-styled genres and mythic in the resonance of its storytelling, but it transcends the ordinary and clichéd in whatever genre it’s reworking.

“Common cool he was a proud young fool in a kick-ass Wal-Mart tie," begins "Ordinary Town," the album’s first song, and already we know we’re in the hands of a born tunesmith. And it’s one rich line after another, whether in the service of a jangly road trip song ("Highway 80"), a Celtic-styled piece of Native Americana ("I Go Like the Raven") or a song of love lost ("Merlin’s Lament"). Give a listen. This album is a small masterpiece.