S. Carey: All We Grow

S. Carey: All We Grow
Bon Iver founding member, S. Carey has a degree in classical percussion from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. In Jazz, drummers often get album’s credited to them (think Max Roach) but unless you are Ringo Starr rock drummers do not have solo albums traditionally. Despite the lack of precedence, S Carey tries to shift the paradigm with his solo debut, All We Grow.
What is most immediately shocking about All We Grow is its lack of percussion. It takes until the third track, “In the Dirt” until there is any sort of percussion and even then it is hand-claps. Although after about half a minute, there are some sparsely added bass drum but then a minute and a half into the five and a half minute song, all percussion ends. Although percussion does return to add to the songs climax at the very end, it is odd for an album I expected to be extremely percussive.
The other thing that struck me about the album is how much it reminds me of The MicrophonesThe Glow Pt 2. Carey’s fragile vocals could not be more Elvrum-esque and the songs’ structure are similar to the Microphones as well. The tracks on the album do not follow the tradition verse-chorus-bridge format. Instead the songs are written like jazz or classical music, they go through movements and occasionally follow a theme and variation format. The album has a little more of chamber pop edge than the Microphones ever engaged in. Esoteric use of woodwinds (most notably oboe), xylophone, and piano add to the symphonic mood of the album. This and the structure makes for an interesting listen but not necessarily a listen that pop music consumers will understand.
With that said, I do not think All We Grow‘s main constituency is supposed to be pop music consumers. Although Bon Iver is fairly popular, they are not *NSYNC (how is that for topical and up-to-date?). For fans of Bon Iver’s unique mix of folk and indie rock, S. Carey’s debut should fit well into their collection. For me, the album is almost too subdued. I had the same problem with Bon Iver’s critically celebrated debut For Emma, Forever Ago. The album was interesting for one listen, but I found its relistenability low.
Rating: 5.9/10
MP3: S. Carey “In the Dirt”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!