S. Carey — Hundred Acres (Feb. 23, 2018) •★• S. Carey’s chosen musical expression is a hugely beatific, restorative panorama of beauty — perfect given how landscape and the wonder of nature inspire much of Carey’s imagery. Like a weathered mountain range changing shadow form and color, or the ebb and flow of a river’s current, his music is simultaneously restful and rhythmic, complex and simple, and always evolving.
Location: Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Genre: Indie Folk, Indie Rock
Album release: Feb. 23, 2018
Record Label: Jagjaguwar
01. Rose Petals 3:29
02. Hideout 2:53
03. Yellowstone 3:50
04. True North 4:33
05. Emery 2:48
06. Hundred Acres 3:47
07. More I See 3:59
08. Fool’s Gold 4:10
09. Have You Stopped to Notice 3:53
10. Meadow Song 3:52
•• Sean Carey
•• Nick Ball
•• Zach Hanson
•• Jeremy Boettcher
•• Ben Lester
• Hideaki Aomori Clarinet
• Jeremy Boettcher Bass
• C.J. Camerieri French Horn
• J. Carey Vocals
• S. Carey Composer, Drums, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Baritone), Guitar (Electric), Percussion, Piano, Prepared Piano, Producer, Synthesizer, Vocals
• Sean Carey Tracking
• Casey Foubert Composer, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Tracking
• Gordi Vocals
• Zach Hanson Bass, Engineer, Guitar (Electric), Mixing, Producer, Programming, Synthesizer, Tambourine, Tracking
• Clarice Jensen Cello
• Ben Lester Drum Programming, Guitar (Nashville), Pedal Steel, Percussion, Piano, Shaker, Synthesizer
• Chris Messina Assistant Engineer, Producer
• Huntley Miller Mastering
• Rob Moose String Arrangements, Viola, Violin
• Nadia Sirota Viola
• Alex Sopp Flute
• Jeremy Turner Composer
• Justin Vernon Sampled Piano, Synthesizer
• Cameron Wittig Art Direction, Photography
•★• ‘Hundred Acres’ finds Carey at his most confident, mature, and grounded, writing the strongest songs of his career. At its core, the album is a poetic treatise on what is truly necessary in life, a surprisingly utilitarian art project that underscores the power of enduring. Carey challenges himself and the listener to strive for a near~utopian ideal of returning to a simpler way of life, and loving those around you, to heal personal wounds.
by Ryan Burleson, FEBRUARY 27 2018. SCORE: 6.4
•★• As his solo career gains momentum, the second~most famous member of Bon Iver spends his latest LP meditating on the simple life.
•★• Taylor Swift listens to him. Sufjan Stevens had him play on Carrie & Lowell. The song he co~wrote with country star Dierks Bentley generated Oscar buzz, and Will Arnett commissioned him to write a weeper for the Netflix series “Flaked.” Nearly a decade into his solo career, it seems longtime Bon Iver drummer and backing vocalist Sean Carey is finally edging past Justin Vernon’s very long shadow. long shadow.
•★• For all they have in common — their shared Wisconsin roots, the pastoral feeling of much of their work — it’s always been lazy to conflate Carey and Vernon’s styles. Where Vernon relishes poetic extravagance, layering his band’s music with numerology and a pine~scented sense of lore, Carey’s appeals to the heart are far less adorned. In his songs, wife and kids are the keys to deepest life, the natural world holds deepest truth, and John Muir was right about everything. His aperture on the world is tight and Whitman~esque. He mellows on hearth and home while his more famous friend chases dragons.
•★• Carey’s latest record, Hundred Acres, is the purest distillation yet of this vision. It’s concerned with “trying to live a simpler life and doing the things you want with the people you love,” he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This statement squares with the fly~fishing victories Carey shares on Instagram and the sound of Hundred Acres: The tunes are full of big~hearted open chords, sweetly bowed strings, restorative synths, and stories about perseverance, love, and hiding in coves with lovers. The music heaves like foam on lake shores.
•★• This is a shift. On 2014’s intricate Range of Light, Carey’s jazz and percussion training bore abundant fruit, inviting a tension between free~floating beauty and thrilling rhythmic counterpoints. The best parts of that album felt like miniature Jonny Greenwood scores, equally unsettled and blissed. Hundred Acres is often gorgeous, and the songs “True North” and “Meadow Song” rank among Carey’s finest, but the LP’s pared~down palette leaves it with less verve. The change in sound is clearly intentional, and Carey’s choice to evolve is admirable. The problem is one can only hear so many nebulous couplets about rivers and waves over languid instrumentation before this gentle snow turns to mush.
•★• It’s possible that Carey is reaching for a wider audience. Perusing his photos, listening to these tunes, watching him blend seamlessly with someone like Bentley, it’s not difficult to imagine a new future for Carey: Not topping charts, perhaps, but becoming a more marketable Glen Hansard or Damien Rice type. Stripped of production embellishments, Hundred Acres can even echo early Coldplay. That isn’t meant as an insult, but it’s worth considering the implications: One reason many listeners just can’t with Coldplay is that Chris Martin’s lyrics feel too broad to be sincere. Similarly, one begins to sense after a few listens to Hundred Acres that Carey isn’t expressing something deep in his marrow.
•★• We know from songs like “Alpenglow,” from Range of Light, that he’s able to express real emotional grit in his songs. Carey gets there occasionally on this album, as when he restates his marital vows on “True North.” Too often, though, Hundred Acres is content to be pleasant. •★• https://pitchfork.com/
AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger; Score: ***½
|S. Carey — Hundred Acres (Feb. 23, 2018)|