Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll


‘Diverse group united by a shared appreciation of a talented writer’ (Rolling Stone) features James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Slaid Cleaves, The Band of Heathens


AUSTIN, TX – Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll, due October 28 on Austin-based Eight 30 Records and produced by label owners Jenni Finlay and Brian T. Atkinson, celebrates a true songwriter’s songwriter, a Texas tunesmith who has inspired both younger and older artists for nearly two decades. Carroll simply captures entire lifetimes among stilled snapshots like few others (“Screen Door,” “Girl with the Dirty Hair”). “I try to find moments that are sublime,” Carroll explains. “They just last a little bit and then you’re back to your regular life and strife, but there are just these perfect little moments.” Evidence: “Black Flag Blues,” “Red Bandana Blues,” “South of Town,” dozens more.

Carroll sketches characters with a novelist’s eye (“Errol’s Song”) and a poet’s elegance (“Hi-Fi Love”) as his vivid vignettes frequently turn personal into universal within seconds (“Highway Prayer”). Consider “Rain.” “I’m feeling like a bird dragging through the storm/Feeling like a scarecrow standing in the corn,” the down and defeated narrator declares. “Sometimes you can’t get through, sometimes it just takes two/Sometimes two adds up to nothing.” Such sideways glances define his literate landscapes. “Long compared to the likes of John Prine and Townes Van Zandt,” the Austin Chronicle once raved, “Adam Carroll proves he’s beyond compare.”

James McMurtry draws the closest line. “Adam Carroll is like a very young Kris Kristofferson. He writes about things that are older than me,” the iconic tunesmith says. “You get a bunch of guys who more people have heard of to sing someone’s songs, it maybe makes their stock go up, which is fine by me.” Early press strongly hints that will be the case. “It speaks volumes that McMurtry and Hayes Carll and many more all contribute to (this) new homage to Adam Carroll,” Rolling Stone enthuses. “It’s a diverse group united by a shared appreciation of a writer who may be only 42, but who, as McMurtry suggests, is talented beyond his years.”

“It’s a diverse group united by a shared appreciation of a writer who may be only 42, but who, as McMurtry suggests, is talented beyond his years.” – Rolling Stone

Admittedly, eyebrows raised throughout the Lone Star state and beyond as news spread about this tribute record. After all, as the legendary music magazine notes, the Central Texas-based songwriter has notched only forty-two trips around the sun, a young man by any measure. No matter. Carroll’s deeply observant stories simply deserve wider attention beyond his reverent peers. “Adam’s a songwriter’s songwriter, a unique voice who’s important to a lot of songwriters,” longtime fan Hayes Carll says. “A lot of people are influenced by him. That’s the measure of if you deserve a tribute record: Are there people you have influenced who will come and do it? That’s undoubtably so with Adam.”

Clearly. Scan the others who jumped the notion was mentioned: Slaid Cleaves. Terri Hendrix. Verlon Thompson. Walt Wilkins. The Band of Heathens. Only songs with the most depth and weight turn those heads. “Adam has so many great songs,” Cleaves says. “There are only a couple of writers who consistently catch my ear and remind me of the subtle joy that great songs can bring. It’s artisanal songwriting. Never gonna be sold at Walmart, but it’ll remind the fortunate few that great songwriting can connect you to your neighbors, your fellow humans, even your own jaded heart.”

Tim Easton doubles down. “Adam Carroll is East Texas’ own Shakespeare of song,” says the East Nashville resident, who contributed the Everly Brothers-like duet “Black Flag Blues” with rising star Aaron Lee Tasjan. “Listen and learn, people. Listen for the details that make us human. Learn how to write about a culture that you are fascinated with. Find the details in behavior that make us all sympathize. His songs belong in Texan and Bayou anthropology courses, but mostly they should belong to your car stereo speakers.”

Other titles on Eight 30 Records include Cold and Bitter Tears: The Songs of Ted Hawkins, Dreamer: A Tribute to Kent Finlay and Danny Barnes’ Got Myself Together (Ten Years Later). See below for full track listing on Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll.


“Screen Door” • James McMurtry

“Girl with the Dirty Hair” • Hayes Carll

“South of Town” • Slaid Cleaves

“Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler” • The Band of Heathens

“Hi-Fi Love” • Jamie Lin Wilson

“Lil’ Runaway” • Verlon Thompson

“Rain • Scott Nolan

“Old Town Rock N Roll” • Matt the Electrician

“Black Flag Blues” • Tim Easton and Aaron Lee Tasjan

“Smoky Mountain Taxi” • Danny Barnes

“Errol’s Song” • Jason Eady

“Red Bandana Blues” • Terri Hendrix

“Karaoke Cowboy” • Noel McKay and Brennen Leigh

“Home Again” • Mando Saenz

“Highway Prayer” • Walt Wilkins

Bonus track: “My Only Good Shirt” • Adam Carroll