Drummers are reserved to being the big noise from the background, but in S. Carey’s case, drumming is only part of the story.
Carey’s solo debut, All We Grow, walks in similar shoes to those of Bon Iver, for which he drummed in the live setting. The music is quiet, ethereal, and boasts haunting harmonies and a delicate falsetto. Where the two projects diverge is in Carey’s classical percussion background, which subtly creeps into his songs, then drives them in new directions. And this isn’t simply drums, but rather the rhythms emanating from guitars, pianos, and voices.
Plaintive staccato forms the sparse backbone of “We Fell,” accompanied by layers of touching falsetto. Dry rapping and loose piano begins “In the Dirt,” weaving tighter and tighter over the course of five minutes. Perhaps the highlight of the nine tracks is “Mothers,” one of the more tender vocal deliveries of the album, elevated by cycling finger-picked guitar with a pulse, and sweetened by its segue into the percussive breakdown “Action.”
S. Carey broke from his classically trained background and became a touring musician with Bon Iver, but on his own, he is proving to be a songwriter and performer that deserves a spot at the front of the stage. Despite the similarities to his work with Justin Vernon, Carey’s All We Grow floats in a new direction propelled by his passionate, percussive nature that plays into each instrument with a near-perfect touch.
All We Grow is out on August 24 on Jagjaguwar.