There’s something gloriously unhurried about Caleb Caudle.
Despite touring and recording at a fairly ceaseless clip since the Winston-Salem native made the full-time musician leap in 2012, Caudle’s sound and songs are almost always measured and pretty, as if he’s carving them out with careful consideration as he builds a body of work sturdy enough for the long haul. Dominated by his rich, honey-soaked voice and knack for broad, easygoing melodies, each tune seems elementally rooted to his autobiographical troubadour philosophy even as the players around him can lift and expand the possibilities, as frequently occurs on last year’s Crushed Coins.
That LP, produced by Jon Ashley (Hiss Golden Messenger, The War on Drugs, Dawes), makes feints towards a widescreen, cinematic Americana sound, but never loses sights of the core premise of Caudle’s music up to this point. Nevertheless, it also (despite being recorded in Los Angeles) featured an increasingly formidable set of Nashville session players, including fiddler Joshua Hedley on fiddle, Megan McCormick on guitar, Brett Resnick on pedal steel and Kevin Black on bass, building subtlely yet unmistakably on his rising profile and stature in the scene.
According to Caudle, it’s all an organic, slow-building evolution.
“It’s just touring and being out on the road and meeting folks,” he says when asked about his increasingly high-profile backers. “You just meet people along the way. Like for the new record, for instance, I had toured a bunch with Drivin’ N Cryin’ last year and [Laur] “Little Joe” [Joamets]’s playing guitar with them now. We just got on going off talking about music and we went through some stuff and it just kind of naturally happens.”
Joamets is the former guitarist for Sturgill Simpson, and that new record Caudle talks about was recorded in Johnny Cash’s cabin. As he talks about the other guest musicians who pepper these records, he casually mentions things like AmericanaFest and the annual Cayamo Cruise shindig in the Caribbean. And with critical love from Rolling Stone Country to The Bitter Southerner, Caudle’s name now seems to belong alongside folks like John Paul White and Courtney Marie Andrews, both of whom guest on this new album. His move to Nashville from his North Carolina residence this past January seems to cement his transition from budding regional talent to national artist.
Caudle seems to take it all in stride, as simply part of the process. He still tours a bit solo, although more often than not he now brings a band with him.
“That’s always kind of been my approach. It takes a while before you’re able to take a band out and make a living,” he notes. “I’m kind of at the point where I’m doing about 40 percent solo shows and about 60 percent with the band. You just need to make sure the songs are good enough to translate in any sort of lineup.”
“If you can strip the song back to just the core instrument and it’s still good, then it’s probably just a good song.”
That attitude is telling, and it suggests a clear comfort with the slow-simmering path that led Caudle to this point. He mentions Lucinda Williams as a career inspiration, an artist who stuck by her creative guns and only truly broke through more than 20 years after her debut.
“I’m just trying to stay consistent, and hopefully after 30 years people will really care about it and it will make my career last a lifetime,” he offers. “There’s been records I’ve made in the past where I’m like, ‘This is, this is the record that will really break,’ but that’s just not the case.”
So even as he sits poised to capitalize on the increased profile that Crushed Coins brought him and with a new record already in the works, Caudle sounds the same methodical craftsman notes that brought him to the dance in the first place.
“I don’t think the road I’m taking it has any like ‘great reveal’ moments,” he asserts. “I’ve kind of chosen a path where it’s longer. It just is what it is, and I’m going to follow my heart and make the records I want to make.”
“After all, I’ve got to sing them every night, you know?”
What: Caleb Caudle
Where: New Brookland Tavern, 122 State St.
When: Thursday, June 6, 8 p.m.
With: Young Mister
Price: $8 (18-plus only)