Five albums into her solo career, Carrie Rodriguez exudes a confidence she has not always felt while transitioning from a supporting player to a showcase singer-songwriter.
“I think a lot of it is age and experience. I mean, I used to dread being in my 30s. I just thought life wouldn't be as much fun, which is crazy,” Rodriguez, 34, said with a laugh during a recent phone interview from her Austin, Texas, home.
“What I'm learning is you just know yourself better and you're more comfortable in your own skin. And that is fun. And that's why I'm less afraid to show the warts and to bare my soul a little bit more, in terms of not only the performances but also the songwriting. I don't feel like I need to hold it all in as much as I used to. I guess you get less concerned with what other people think and how they react and just want to be true to yourself.”
The roots music singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist released Tuesday her new album, “Give Me All You Got.” On Sunday, she and fellow multi-hyphenate Luke Jacobs, who co-wrote three songs and played guitars on the album, are bringing their duo tour to one of her favorite venues, the Blue Door.
“That's a special place. Only one of those in this country,” she said. “I don't know a lot of other venues that are like that. It's just got such a homey, chill vibe.”
Born in Austin and raised on an array of pop, traditional and classical music, Rodriguez knows chill vibes and good music. She started training on the violin at the age of 5 and her father, singer-songwriter David Rodriguez, influenced her fiddling style. She was awarded a scholarship to Oberlin Conservatory of Music and moved on to graduate from the prestigious Berklee College of Music.
She credits her frequent collaborator Chip Taylor, the singer-songwriter best known for penning the songs “Angel of the Morning” and “Wild Thing,” and alt-country heroine Lucinda Williams with helping her come into her own as a performer. She reunited with Taylor, who discovered her at the 2001 South By Southwest Music Conference, on “Give Me All You Got,” with the acclaimed songsmith writing two songs for her and co-writing two more with her.
“It was just such a lucky break for me that when I first started playing gigs that I met him. And you know, I was imagining a life as a sideman accompanying someone like him, but I never saw myself as a singer and certainly not a songwriter. And he convinced me that I needed to try those things and kind of pushed me into doing that.”
She also learned a lot touring with Williams, who listed Rodriguez's 2006 solo debut “Seven Angels on a Bicycle” on her top 10 playlist for The New York Times.
“It really helped my confidence — it just made me think, ‘Wow, well, maybe I should stick with this ‘cause Lucinda thinks it's OK.'”
Her new album reflects an interesting time in Rodriguez's life: About two years ago, she moved back to Austin after living in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“A lot of these songs were written when I kind of first got back and was starting to get settled here and had a second to reflect on my life,” she said.
Of her studio albums, Rodriguez, who plays tenor guitar as well as four-string electric mandolin, or mandobird, along with fiddle, said “Give Me All You Got” comes closest to capturing the feel of her live shows.
“With my previous studio albums I've spent quite a bit of time picking over things, you know, redoing vocals, adding layers, which is all fun. I don't think that's a bad thing to do or a bad way to make a record. But this is the first record that is pretty much all live,” she said.
“We actually toured for about two weeks before we went into the studio. So we got all the songs sort of tested out a little bit and broken in, and we just went in and played, which felt good. And there's mistakes and sometimes I sing out of tune and there's little guitar flubs. You know, I got sick about halfway through the process, just a head cold, and some of those vocals I can hear it. But maybe because I was sick, there was something especially vulnerable and true about the performances.
“It's pretty real.”