Personnel: Carolyn Mark (piano); Kelly Haigh, Andy Kerr, Luther Wright, Paul Mosley, Kris Demeanor, Cindy Emch, Mellie Somers, Laura Freeman (vocals); Joel Fernandes (guitar); Kathleen Nisbett (violin); Clay George (harmonica).
Audio Mixer: Myke Hall.
Recording information: Becoming Sound, Ymir, British Columbia (04/01/2016); Mimbres Hotsprings Ranch, New Mexico (04/01/2016); The Hollister Courthouse (04/01/2016).
Carolyn Mark's mix of wry and heartfelt alt-country and Americana has been a staple of the Canadian roots music scene since the late '90s. With 2016's Come! Back! Special!, she builds on her respected catalog, delivering another warmly crafted set that pits her strong, torchy voice against a backdrop of pleasantly retro country-folk and twangy old-school rock. It's her first release for the artist-run Roaring Girl Records boutique label and, stylistically, it follows pretty closely in the footsteps of her 2012 release, Queen of Vancouver Island. Humor has always been a major element in Mark's songwriting style and she dishes up plenty of tracks in that department, like the explicit "Get It Up" and the wacky story-song "The Ballad of Honkey Donkey and the Heartbreaker." She's at her best blending her wit a bit more subtly into songs like the catchy "Walk and Don't Look Back" and "The Last to Know." Overall, there's some solid material here and Come! Back! Special! will likely appeal to fans of her previous albums. ~ Timothy Monger