Much of the first-wave press on S. Carey is quick to point out that the musician is Bon Iver’s drummer and also lives in Eau Claire, and that’s the hook. It’s true, yet Carey’s music is quickly striding away from that main touchstone with the release of his solo album All We Grow [Jagjaguwar Records], which is filled with enough catch of its own to set him apart from his usual collaborators. Carey uses a similar spaciousness to his compositions, but makes his work even more orchestral, building his pieces with woodwinds, piano and percussion. Simplistic, lyrically, Carey uses minimalism in his singing, unwittingly making his words weigh more while audibly building them up with layers and layers of vocal harmonies.
Carey’s unconventionality in sound lends to a staying-power depth, yet this depth isn’t necessarily tinged with introversion — these songs are hopeful and outreaching. One of the first tracks on All We Grow (“We Fell”) makes use of repetitive piano chords as the percussion, building dynamically as vocals hover over. Followup song, “In the Dirt” picks up where the drums were left out on “We Fell”, adding handclaps to roll the piece along, clarinets bobbing and fluttering in the background. In this, Carey comes off as a more organic Owen Pallet or Sufjan Stevens, his classical and jazz training an obvious influence on his songwriter style, naturally creating mini folk-orchestras.
Carey will, along with his traveling band, make an appearance in Milwaukee this Saturday for part two of the 6th anniversary show for Muzzle of Bees, with Conrad Plymouth set to open. Carey, makes a strong case for bands being able to translate recorded albums to live performance in the above video from MPLS.TV. He and his band deliver the album in a satisfyingly real way.
Carey recently wrapped up headlining a tour with White Hinterland and Peter Wolf Crier, sitting in on a Daytrotter Session and is doing a short Minneapolis-to-Milwaukee-to-Chicago tour jaunt this weekend, headlining Club Garibaldi’s this Saturday for a show that will be sure to stay with attendees for weeks and weeks to come. Tune into 91.7 FM WMSE Milwaukee at 4 p.m. [CST] on Saturday, January 15th to hear a live interview with Carey as he stops by the WMSE Studios on the Paul and Tim Show. Stream online at WMSE.org or check it out in the WMSE archives after the fact.
S. Carey + Conrad Plymouth play Club Garibaldi’s [2501 S. Superior] at 10 p.m. Saturday, January 15th.