Artist: S. Carey
Album: All We Grow
Record Label: Jagjaguwar
Release Date: 8/24/2010
Over the past couple of years, few artists have managed to create music as stunningly moving as Wisconsin natives Bon Iver. Their 2008 debut record For Emma, Forever Ago was the result of frontman Justin Vernon’s cathartic winter in solitude, out of which his heartfelt and masterful release arose. While Bon Iver have recently taken a well-deserved break from touring, and the time off has allowed Bon Iver drummer Sean Carey to start his own side project, S. Carey, as well as release his first album All We Grow.
While the comparisons to Justin Vernon are inevitable due to their obvious ties within Bon Iver, the differences are rather noticeable. Both artists undoubtedly share a cathartic element to their work. But where Vernon’s emotional outpour dissonantly cries out for help, Carey’s All We Grow endures as a quiet storm. Combined with a dynamic and driving orchestration, Carey carefully arranges each individual sonic layer atop one another, forming waves of sound that hypnotically drone at times while richly resonate at others. The album’s first single “In The Dirt” perfectly displays this combination as his serene vocals drift amidst a lush assortment of classical instrumentation.
However, All We Grow occasionally leans too far toward sounding like musical wallpaper as a result of Carey’s tranquil and collected style. While his compositions have a more definitive post-rock element than Bon Iver, the album lacks the heightened evocative moments defining For Emma, Forever Ago. Likewise, his floating and atmospheric drone is able to peacefully entrance throughout All We Grow, yet fails to add a much dramatic flair similar to the way Jonsi can stunningly build and breakdown his music.
Despite All We Grow’s shortcomings as a complete album, it showcases Carey’s immense promise as a songwriter. The album’s title track “All We Grow” is a minimalist work of beauty that remains subtle in its crawling buildup. “Action” calmly roars and repetitively pounds before fading back into nothing. Overall, All We Grow echoes a series of small swells and ripples, soaked in Carey’s contemplative nature. It’s not necessarily what Bon Iver fans will be hoping for, but it’s nevertheless a remarkably well-crafted album that glistens with beauty.