S. Carey – All We Grow (CD/LP) album review

photo: Wade Griffith

by Jack Diablo
Subtlety is Carey’s weapon of choice. All We Grow was composed, not written. Two years in the making it is the result of the layering of multiple sessions, something that has surely evolved over time, sprouting from the seed of an original concept into something that blooms before your very eyes, or in this case ears. As a touring member of Bon Iver, the lines of similarity can be clearly drawn but Carey’s compositions are more atomspheric and of course, he doesn’t have Justin Vernon’s signature voice.
The overall tone of the album is very close to the Eluvium album released earlier this year. I have to say that I’m finding a lot to appreciate in these composition-based acts. They maintain a pop sensibility while incorporating elements and instrumentation normally reserved for jazz or chamber music. Of course, there’s some guitar, drums and plenty of electronic loops in the mix to keep it relevant. While Vernon’s baritone makes Bon Iver immediately identifiable, Carey’s soft alto soothes, nearly mesmerizing the listener and evoking a calmer state of mind.
As ambient-leaning as the album is, there are plenty of contrasting moments where songs take a more traditional form. There’s a subtle dynamic that keeps the album interesting and re-listenable, while remaining a record to put on when you’re looking to wind down, drift away and escape the hustle and bustle of a busy day. It’s definitely the kind of music to play while laying next to someone special when you just want to chill out and enjoy the moment.
What is interesting is the lack of percussion this classically-trained jazz drummer has omitted from his work. Nevertheless, All We Grow is well-conceived and produced album that can appeal to anyone with the patience to filter through the layers and appreciate the delicate complexity Carey seems to have mastered.