Carrousel: 27 rue de Mi’chelle
Born out of the love and loss of this project’s mastermind, Joel Piedt, Carrousel‘s 27 rue de Mi’chelle is the culmination of a 2-year labor for Piedt an is nothing short of a true work of art. In an attempt to capture the love, loss, and acceptance of that loss of his beloved Michelle, Piedt has crafted a truly unique album that takes the listener on both a musical and personal voyage. Drawing inspiration from sources as varied as Brian Wilson, Ernest Hemingway, and Romantic and Impressionistic artists, the album is orchestrated and written in a way that has been lost in this time of hit singles and synth-laden pop songs.
Beginning with “Idee Fixe,” the album immediately sets forth on a journey, conjuring the ocean in a musical rather than lyrical way. The sea, a form of surrender, is Piedt’s image of Michelle captured in nature, and persists throughout the album as the melodic line of this song is placed in various other tracks. It pops up again in “You Only Love Yourself” and yet again in the somber “In Her Tomb by the Sounding Sea,” serving as a constant reminder of this woman he can’t forget. It is this type of sophisticated songwriting that is clearly drawn from Brian Wilson and Pet Sounds, and it is something that elevates this album above many other indie-folk releases this year.
As the first track transitions into “14,” an inner dialogue that Piedt has with himself regarding letting go or not letting go of Michelle, the listener is really treated to the full and orchestral instrumentation of the album. Softly-plucked violins and tinkling pianos mingle with echoing guitars and soft acoustic guitars, creating a soundscape that perfectly captures the mental state of the love-torn Piedt. Whether it’s the self-loathing of “You Only Love Yourself” or the despair of “Take Me Now,” every track has clearly been labored over endlessly until it was “perfect.” Also in line with Brian Wilson, the production of this album is incredible, as the instrumentation is not too crisp but not too muddled, allowing every feature of the songs to stick out in a unique way. It sounds orchestrated yet improvised, as it is clear planning was carefully and painfully put into this album yet without the loss of that certain emotional spark and feeling of happenstance.
Stuck firmly in the middle of the album, “Where Do We Go from Here” is the culmination of everything Piedt and Carrousel had been attempting up to this point. It embodies the musical and personal journey of the album by creating a dialogue between Piedt and Michelle. Posing the question set out in the title, the song embarks on a quest to answer that question, splitting the track into two parts, one part posing the question, one part attempting to answer it. This ingenious and sophisticated song form is the pinnacle of Piedt’s songwriting ability, and really marks this track as the centerpiece and masterpiece of the album. However, by the end of this track, the question is not fully answered, as the female vocalist and Piedt come to the realization that it doesn’t matter where they end up; everything will be fine no matter how their tale unfolds.
This acceptance of loss and separation is quickly followed by despair and sorrow, embodied in the somber “In Her Tomb by the Sounding Sea,” which flips the imagery of the sea set out in “Idee Fixe” on its head, and the resigned “Take Me Now.” However, by the end of the album, Piedt has come around and accepted that “no poet, or priest, or theologian could bring my Michelle back.” The title track, interestingly placed at the end of the album, provides the listener with a glimmer of hope after a sea of despair, as the final joyous outburst of violin and piano seems set on moving towards a new, brighter future.
MP3: Carrousel “Where Do We Go from Here”
Carrousel: 27 rue de Mi’chelle