Carl Creighton – Eleven North

Carl Creighton – Eleven North

Carl Creighton – Eleven North

I feel it’s only fair to start this one off with some much needed preface. At the very bottom of this review you will find a link to my review of Carl Creighton’s first album, Minnesota. It was an album that, though it carried its own charms and stamina, left a lot to be desired. To be blunt, it was a debut album that was mired by inconsistent songwriting, a lack of melodic appeal and, more over, a yearning to be heard even though it wasn’t quite ready. To shame, because it was Creighton’s baby, a record he labeled as “an album 7 years in the making” and still, very honestly, “recorded and mixed in 6 days;” the latter statement was never more fitting.

Worthy of such harsh discourse or not, it wasn’t something that received a complimentary review. At DOA, we like to pride ourselves on covering the lesser known music, the music that is out there making a name for itself. So I can honestly admit that it hurt to write such a negative review towards something that is fighting and struggling just to survive. Since then, Creighton actually contacted me again and let me know his new album had just been released and asked for review consideration. I was floored by his tenacity, his pride in his work and his amazing courage and naturally, I graciously accepted. So before anything else, Creighton deserves a ton of respect and he’ll always be an artist I admire and for that, one that I look forward to hearing more and more about in the future.

One must always approach new music with open minds and open ears: the pay-off comes in dividends with Eleven North, an album that gels through a seamless progression of depth. Creighton’s instrumentation is meatier with the addition of more organs, more vocals and fuller, deeper, flourishing string arrangements. With every new song there is a new style to take over and whether it’s the straight up poppy rock of “When I Go,” the honest openness of “Freedom is a Buzzword,” or the gorgeous undertaking of “Your Heart in My Pocket,” Creighton’s ability as both a singer and musician have risen above. He’s still singing about his life, and sincerely so, except every nuance and shift is carefully balanced with resoundingly strong music.

Even when the lyrics come off clunky and a bit too direct, there is promise in just how much improvement has been made. You often look at artists and you wonder how they don’t seem to get any better. I mean, look at someone like Nickelback, has there and will there ever be any kind of expansion? Sorry for mentioning them in your review Carl but here’s someone who has obviously been practicing, rehearsing and continuously working on improving his craft. And aptly so, it’s paid off with an album that is not only a considerable step in the right direction but an impressively remarkable surprise.

With Eleven North, Creighton has fully directed his passions and strengths into a stellar release. There’s growth by leaps and bounds and it’s expressed in everything from its arrangements, to its compositions, to its instrumentation, to the sheer fact that Creighton just sounds that much better. When looking back, “El Paso” was such a strong song because it towered over everything else with its emotional pull. Emotions can bring the best and the worst out of you and that one track latched onto everything Creighton was positioning, like sap rolling off a tree. Slowly flowing down and gripping at the sides while still bursting inside, it was the potential of an artist ready to shine through. He’s placed that kind of effort all over Eleven North, except instead of one song, it’s an entire album of music – bravo.