Have you ever stayed up all night to see the dawn break over a field hazy with mercurial mists, the tall stalks of grass hung with spider webs dripping dew? There’s a coolness that seeps into your bones as the light blooms ever so softly and swiftly, rose tinting the golds and blues and greens of the land. Those colors, that feeling, is how We All Grow, the debut album from S. Carey, sounds to me. S. Carey, previously known as Sean Carey the drummer from Bon Iver, has crafted a collection of songs so delicately lovely they almost make me weep with joy.
We All Grow is a complete sound experience. The opening track, Move, fades in with building synth tones, a tinkle of bells, and a muffled sample of distortion before breaking into hushed vocals and plucked acoustic guitar. The duality of complex soundscapes and the simple intimacy of S. Carey’s musicianship is the essence of this album. And, it is the inherent dualism of that I find captivating. Serene and innocuously passive, yet songs like In The Dirt and Broken have trickled into the synapses of my brain, and now I simply can’t get them out. I want to reset my heartbeats to the handclaps from In The Dirt. The chimes in Broken tickle my ears. Intricacies of perfect human imperfection. We All Grow is almost too well suited to my current growing pains. Oh S. Carey, how did you know what I needed to hear?
Whenever an artist goes solo, or rogue as many rabid music nerds tend to see it, it’s hard to not draw parallels to their previous group work. That admitted; let me beg your pardon of a brief comparison to Bon Iver. Certainly stylistically S. Carey’s solo work will appeal to all the many lovers of Bon Iver. However, it has a distinctly different emotional feel than their definitive album, For Emma, Forever Ago, which was the heartfelt outpouring of founding member Justin Vernon. S. Carey’s solo work is less lonely, less stark. There are warm, lush moments, such as the piano of In The Stream, highlighted with strings and female vocals. Basically, it’s clear why Vernon and Carey would collaborate together, but Carey more than holds his own in the creation of his own music. There is no riding of coattails here.
With a building buzz since the beginning of summer, We All Grow was finally released today on Jagjaguwar, currently one of my most beloved record labels. If you appreciate subtly and sensibilities, I urge you get a copy.