Barton Carroll

The Lost One (Empty Bucket)

There's a good reason the Coen brothers' No Country for Old Men has no musical score: The silence that infuses the alternating scenes of violence and regret wholly amplifies the mysterious motivations of the film's many characters. But if the Coens wanted a soundtrack, Seattle-based singer-songwriter Barton Carroll's darkly beautiful The Lost One would be a perfect fit. Informed by Bruce Springsteen's blue-collar tales and strengthened by Carroll's own time spent playing with the indie-rock project Crooked Fingers, The Lost One is an elegant song cycle that plays out with a spare palette of intimate and very human shades. Carroll sketches disarmingly vibrant and compassionate portraits of characters who are caught up in moments of both euphoria and agony. He's most effective singing about lost love (Those Days Are Gone, and My Heart Is Breaking") or celebrating newfound infatuation ("Brooklyn Girl, You're Going to Be My Bride"). But he's capable of lightening up once in a while too: In "Dark Place," Carroll sardonically looks at just how boring the act of self-pity can be. It's a gracefully bittersweet outing.