On the surface, Adam Carroll is an odd choice for a tribute record. He’s only 42, and he’s not exactly famous. His seven independently-released albums haven’t elevated him to a level of stardom beyond touring the living rooms of his more dedicated fans, but fame isn’t the only indication of importance, and Carroll matters to the people a songwriter often seeks to impress: his peers.
That’s why Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll, due out October 28, features performers including James McMurtry, Hayes Carll, Terri Hendrix, Band of Heathens, and more who all snatched up the opportunity to record Carroll’s songs. And the artist who claimed the album’s title track is San Antonio-native Walt Wilkins, who brings the contemplative, mournful tune to life with a crisp acoustic guitar, ringing slide, and some harmonies on the chorus.
“Adam stands out from the crowd. He’s a thread to Dylan, mixed with an East Texas oil field worker and has such a common man approach to his writing and storytelling,” Wilkins says. “Highway Prayer is about people who do what we songwriters do, but it could appeal to a truck driver too.”
That’s a big part of what makes the sort of dreamy, country-inspired songwriting that Carroll does special—it’s got a broad enough appeal to reach all sorts of audiences. It makes sense, then, why so many songwriters like Wilkins and the rest would sign up to pay tribute to a contemporary.