A dim, sentimental and soulful record, Barton Carroll’s “The Lost One” breezes by with the ease of a summertime flock of birds. The perpetual sideman, who’s worked with Crooked Fingers, Azure Ray and Dolorean, among others, Carroll employs mostly acoustic guitars (some gorgeous lap steel, too) for a folky, mountain-man sound. (The fiddle solo on “Superman” will have you recalling nineteenth-century imagery.) Carroll’s voice isn’t necessarily groundbreaking—in fact, a bit toneless and off at moments—but it does what’s necessary to push forward the stark, often haunting melodies. It’s a sad ordeal, melancholic even in the silent spaces between the notes, but feeling sorry for the songwriter isn’t an option—Carroll makes you take his hand and leads you along as the story unfolds. A song like “Those Days Are Gone, And My Heart Is Breaking,” with its elegant finger-picking and bittersweet tone, will always win me over, and Carroll has an honesty about his delivery that will stop you dead. “It’s no disgrace to make an honest living,” Carroll sings. Damn right. (Tom Lynch)
Barton Carroll plays February 16 at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, (773)525-2508, at 10pm. $10-$12.