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MIXTAPE: Carley Arrowood’s Colorful, Vibrant Bluegrass

Apr 29, 2024

MIXTAPE: Carley Arrowood's Colorful, Vibrant Bluegrass

Music is so colorful, whether the lyrics have actual color words, carry a deeper meaning, are just stylistically vibrant, or paint a mental picture without using words at all. Music is meant to reach down and touch your soul in all kinds of ways, evoking special emotions and calling to mind familiar times.

As a songwriter, it’s always my goal to be able to create such colors for listeners and these songs are some of my absolute favorites when it comes to all of the above. Each one has made a huge mark on me through my music journey, adding to my palette of influence and helping me see more the beauty of this art. – Carley Arrowood

“Shadows” – Tony Rice

When my husband and I first started talking, I went to see his band The Trailblazers perform. It was a sweet evening of music, seeing some of my old friends, meeting his family, and of course getting to visit with him. I went home with a CD and played it endlessly in my Jeep Liberty. “Shadows” was in the mix, and I just remember loving hearing him sing it. Fast forward two and a half years, and he’s singing it to our little girl.

Gordon Lightfoot had such a way with words. This is one of those songs where you can just picture your surroundings, and the one you love.

“Fall Creek Falls” – Jim VanCleve

Jim has always been a huge fiddle influence of mine and when I first heard this song, my heart just leapt at the minor [chords] walking to the majors. “Fall Creek Falls” is a bucket list place to visit, but with the progression of the music I can just picture a beautiful waterfall, maybe turning into a big rushing river with all its twists and turns. The musicianship on this track is just incredible.

“Daylight” – Alison Krauss & Union Station

“Daylight falls … Safe in shadow, it’s never as dark as the daylight.” Honestly though, how true is that? This is such a sweet poem full of vibrant imagery. It offers contemplation of realizing and learning that you have to be yourself in life and not try to be someone you’re not, as scary as that can be. Sometimes the dark is way more comfortable, as no one can see your flaws or mistakes, but when you bring it all to the daylight you realize everyone is just the same. “I see it’s safer to connect to the daylight.” My sister and I grew up listening to Alison, and this one was always a favorite.

“Redbird” – Cadillac Sky

Dang, I love this song. These guys were so influential to my sister and I – and her husband, who plays bass in my band. My dad also really loves this song! We all used to sing it in the car together, each grabbing a different harmony part. There were only two in the original recording, but Autumn would add in the tenor for a cool extra layer.

“Redbird” tells the story of heartache turned to hope, as the singer declares, “You can burn me down to ashes, bury me beneath your clay / But I’ll rise again like Lazarus, and live to love another day.” I love how you can feel the hurt and frustration of the lyrics in the solos. I had the absolute privilege of playing with Matt Menefee for a couple years when I was touring with Darin and Brooke, and I asked him one time, “Do you remember any of your solos from Cadillac Sky?” hoping he’d just go off on the one in this song. He just kinda laughed and answered, “Nope!” So that tells me he was just crushing some improv in the studio. So, so good!

“God of All My Days” – Casting Crowns

I listen to this song whenever I feel burdened by the weight of the world, or even just by the weight of my to-do list for the day. It reminds me that everything I do has a purpose from the Lord and He is over it all, and that when “my seasons change, [He] stay[s] the same.” I’m reminded that there’s nowhere else for me to find comfort when all else fails. He’s the God of all my days.

“Colors” – Carley Arrowood

I’ll stick this one right here, because it goes with the theme of the last song. When my husband and I wrote “Colors,” we were sitting in our living room watching a gorgeous sunset glisten through our windows. It’s amazing just how much more this song has come to mean to me personally since I wrote it. I had a friend in mind who was dealing with a lot of anxiety while we were writing it, and while it wasn’t directly written to her, she stayed on my mind throughout the process. And when she came out of her anxious state victorious, she said the song really spoke deep. “Colors” is just a reassurance that whatever we are going through, the Lord means for our good and His glory, even though we may not understand it in the present thick of it.

“Harvest Sky” – Nick Dumas

My buddy Nick wrote a killer instrumental jam that paints a gorgeous Wisconsin sunset! I’m so glad he asked me to play fiddle on this. Let your mind run wild with this one!

“Two Boys from Kentucky” – Randy Kohrs

The Brother’s War, families split between blue and gray, the tragic shades of our American story. Randy’s writing in this kills me every time, especially with what happens – lyrically and musically – “while the cannon fire rang down.” It’ll move you to tears as the story progresses.

“Space and Time” – The Trailblazers

In 2020 the Trailblazers (my husband’s band) came out with a stellar album of progressive bluegrass originals and covers, and the title track, “Space and Time,” is one that sticks after you hear it. Flooded with colorful imagery, the song follows a contemplative traveler through weary lands who longs for a perfect home. It’s one of my favorite songs on this album, and no, not just because my husband wrote it! πŸ˜‰ It’s been sweet to see his growth as a musician and writer since we’ve been together.

“Chasin’ Indigo” – Carley Arrowood

I added this one off my new album, Colors, just because of the fun color language! Daniel and I wrote this from our love of sunset watching, and we hope it encourages you to pick your head up from your work and enjoy time with your loved ones. We’re not promised tomorrow, so chase today’s colors to the very end.

Photo Credit: Laci Mack

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MIXTAPE: Carley Arrowood's Colorful, Vibrant Bluegrass
MIXTAPE: Carley Arrowood's Colorful, Vibrant Bluegrass