S. Carey is the drummer and supporting vocalist of Bon Iver, a once obscure indie folk band from Wisconsin that unexpectedly grew larger than life. But S. Carey, or Sean, tells us through his heartbreaking sophomore solo album that he’s his own person with a distinct and masterful approach to quiet, atmospheric music that could easily take you to places and make you feel things just by listening intently. He also happens to have a ridiculously calming voice that’s reminiscent of Jose Gonzalez and Sufjan Stevens. His clear vision shows throughout as the tone never veers too far, always consistently on the same path to glorious, heartfelt rhythms. He understands the beauty in simplicity and subtlety, and employs that skill to stretch the possibilities of combining ambient and indie folk to breathtaking results. Go on, let Sean Carey take you somewhere beautiful and melt your troubles away. It’s an experience you would want to relive again and again.
Track 1: “Glass/Film”
This is the cinematic album opener that immediately prepares you for what’s to come ahead. As Sean finishes singing, “I was made for this, I was tamed by this,” the song comes to an enchanting climax that one would hear while staring at a glorious sunrise. It’s pure magic.
Play this when: You’re out camping with someone special. Or a regular friend, really. Heck, even if you’re alone.
Track 3: “Crown The Pines”
In one of the most dynamic songs on the record, Sean’s soft voice is layered on top of Justin Vernon’s familiar falsetto in the background making for a beautiful, contrasty effect along with the many layers of instruments. They are all put to a halt after almost a minute, isolating the tender piano notes and Sean’s voice. Then with the eerie buzzing of the violin comes the explosion of sounds once again. It could give you the shivers.
Play this when: You’re feeling a little anxious.
Track 6: “Alpenglow”
In this piano ballad, with some of the most beautiful lyrics in the record, he sings about companionship, direction, and possibly even anxiety with a moving restraint. His simplicity and minimalism shines here and in the last few seconds, the song rises atmospherically and so do we when we hear the last few verses.
Play this when: You’re drinking wine at night and thinking about life.
Track 7: “Fleeting Light”
This song begins softly like a lullaby, then gradually ascents into a subtle spectacle of an arrangement. It feels like poetry being chanted as he talks about climbing the Half Dome, tan lines, beach walks, and cliff sides. It ends and leaves us just as abruptly as the light of day.
Play this when: You’re dreaming about your next trip to Yosemite.