Caleb Stine – Moon
Writer: Tim Newby
Caleb Stine is a songwriter of powerful dimensions who does not simply write songs and make albums, instead he creates experiences through his music that spring to life through his commanding voice that channels the heart of each character that inhabit his songs. The stories that exist in his songs run the full gamut of emotion from joy, to sorrow, to curiosity, to elation. Listening to one of Stine’s albums is a complete emotional journey, an experience beyond simply listening to music.
On his latest album, Moon, Stine took this idea a step further creating a coloring book as part of the packaging for the album. Each song is represented by drawings from different artists and allows you to experience music in way you may have not before. When is the last time you sat and just listened to music and did nothing but that? Not listening to it as background music in the house, or while you are driving, or as you workout, but where listening is the main focus. The coloring book provides an outlet to allow you to truly focus on the music and dive deep into the album, to crawl around in each song, to dig through the lyrics and find every meaning and nuance. And Stine’s music has lots of corners in which to explore. It is music that gets deep in your soul and makes you want to listen intently.
Moon is built upon a lush, minimalist, atmospheric soundscape that weaves Stine’s guitar between subtle moments of delicately placed cello, the simple plinking of a piano, and dreamy background vocals that combine to craft a rich musical environment. The creation of this environment was aided by producer Kenny Liner, formerly of roots-rockers The Bridge. Liner incorporated elements not previously found on Stine’s albums, enabling Moon to stand out from the rest of Stine’s catalog with its creative use of textures and sparse arrangements.
Stine is squarely in the mold of the songwriter’s songwriter like his predecessors Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Blaze Foley. While he is not always known by the masses, when heard his songs resonant with all. His lyrics are uncompromised truth. There is no artifice. On Moon every song is delivered with pure intent about an unvarnished reality. That reality runs the full spectrum of emotions from personal fears in “Higher Ground,” where he sings, “Don’t let me bow to confusion and depression,” to declarations of unrestrained love in “Hollow Imitation,” to singing of finding enlightenment while waiting for his love in “Bodhi Tree.” But the overriding theme of Moon is love and the many layers of the powerful emotion. As you listen to Moon you can hear Stine’s personal narrative about who he is and his life, but as with any great songwriter Stine’s songs are best viewed as a reflection of your life. Moon is a reminder that you have fears, you have highs and lows, you have lived and as Stine reminds in the closing moments of the album’s final track, “The Garden,” when he whispers, “Love ya,” most importantly you are loved.