Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Matt Oliver, Mastering by Sam Patlove
Toward the bottom of the thank you section, inside the liner notes of S. Carey's gorgeous debut album, "All We Grow," the Bon Iver percussionist thanks Justin Vernon "for being a constant guide through so many parts of this process." It is an inevitability that, no matter how anyone would like to see it, there can be some distinct audio comparisons to Carey's debut album and "For Emma, Forever Ago," the indie blockbuster that Vernon wrote a few winters ago to deal with a broken heart. As the story goes, Vernon moved back to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, hunkered down in his parents' cabin out in the depths of a snowy forest, for months on end, found a voice and wrote. What he came out of the woods with was an album that resonated with so many for its luster and its brilliance in capturing the full figure of a man who had been dismantled, chopped down into a proportionately smaller man and then self-nourished back into a stronger body, holding in his hands a testament to pain endured and overcome. Sean Carey would not have, nor did he ask Vernon to borrow that cabin, wear the clothes and read the books that Vernon wore and read whilst living in said cabin. He did not go there, though the cool, wind-swept valley feeling of the album might suggest otherwise. He did nothing to try and channel that same muse that led Mr. Bon Iver to his first, but not likely his last opus. His one so happened to be about man and a very particular woman. Carey's happens to be about a man - seemingly, happily knowing that he's doing it - working his way to a point where he's going to need that cabin and he's going to need to get away. He's almost asking for it.
One can hear some of the echoes of those woods on "All We Grow," or what our minds want us to believe are those mystical woods, but it's important to pay the closest attention to the separation of the content of these two musicians and friends, or we'll miss a great listen and the approach. The separation goes something like understanding, on sight, the difference between a scratch and a tear, a scrape and a ripping off of some of the hide. It's the difference between a headache and a crack on the skull that stings and - with a delayed reaction - reach up to see why something feels wet around your temple, only to pull your hand back with a dark smudge of hot crimson on the tips of your fingers. One is the result of a man destroyed and rehabilitated and the other is of a romantic who spreads the losses and gains of the heart out evenly, so as not to sink like most. For now, but damn it, if all goes as planned in the songs on "All We Grow," the odds of a fallout for the narrator in question increase dramatically. We shouldn't feel that Carey has been pummeled into a heartbroken submission the way that Vernon seems like he may have been - at least for a sliver of a time before he went Robert Frost, got himself together and tied it all up into a beauty that could never break. We should feel that we've got a possible sneak peek at the prelude. Carey sings on the album's opening track, "If I could run my fingers through your hair/If you could run along the shore and air/I would keep all my mornings clear/Move all your bees to here," and hell man, that's some dangerous shit to be wanting. Right inside those words, we feel the scale tipping a little and we feel that while some of sweet-sounding and dewy, but sunburned moments have known some sadness, there's no way they've seen it all yet.
S. Carey Official Site