REVIEW: S. Carey – ‘Range of Light’

S Carey

Artist: S. Carey
Album: Range of Light
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Jagjaguwar

I love being from New England. In fact, I live for it. Honored by Mother Nature with four vastly distinct seasons, each year is a cyclical twist around the sun, yielding an environmental invigoration that casts a sense of purity, desperately needed in an otherwise incredibly impure world. There is no feeling of euphoric inspiration I find greater than indulging in that first crisp breath of Fall air. Paired by the leaves’ departure from their high stature, Autumn in New England is the beginning of a drastic change. Followed by Old Man Winter, the cold finds itself hibernating in my core, collecting, and channeling itself for a metamorphosis. Bloomed in the Spring, and perspired in the Summer, an intimate and spiritual cultivation is manifested.

Though all these announced rewards of natural law and understanding are ever present, the unleashing of said nirvana sometimes needs a little aid. My understanding and unification with the world around me is only accelerated and appreciated with the necessity of art. And in this intangible cosmic rupture, the soft, calming, and transcendent sounds of S. Carey’s sophomore release, Range of Light, are the catalyst to my metaphysical terraforming.

Earned with a higher abundance of textures, Range of Light is a consistently fuller experience from the preexisting beauty S. Carey is already known to emit. Nine experiences of sound, Sean Carey constructs an entire universe of instilled imagery, leading the listener to architect a vast and wondrous world as they please. Each track sliding into place with repeated listens, after a few weeks with the album everything seemed to fall into a completed locus. Perfectly composed and aligned, each work is essential to the flow of the waves that run through the entire record.

Opener “Glass/Film” sets the stage for the album’s imagination, continually building on itself as it moves along. Adding layer after layer, Carey’s impressive ear for orchestration is immediately showcased. Something I noticed based on his previous works is the stronger presence of his voice. Incredibly soft, Carey’s vocals carry themselves as easily as the passing current of a river. Proved on personal favorites “Creaking,” “Fire-scene,” “Alpenglow,” and “The Dome,” Carey has successfully learned how to create an incredibly complex soundscape, all while keeping his keen sense for exceptional melody to layer the foreground. Thankfully we are given the beautiful and relaxing “Radiant” to even out the beginning and ending four tracks, for “Radiant” is the perfect palate cleanser to the bookending concept of Range of Light. Copious amounts of piano, guitar, percussion, and a wealth of other sounds fill the sonic body of the work, presenting a much more diverse experience than what was heard on All We Grow. Also featuring much welcomed vocal cameos from Justin Vernon, the album was recorded at Vernon’s April Base Studios in Wisconsin. Carey’s work earns its due with the massive sound captured within those now famous walls. Felt on “Crown The Pines,” “Fleeting Light,” and “Neverending Fountain,” the busyness of Carey’s writing is carefully kept tight and elevated.

For me, this album takes me to my Summer home in the mountains of New Hampshire, but that experience is entirely singular. The true beauty and essence of the work is its variability. At any given moment the sounds can take you to any place you choose, or be the perfect companion to any setting. Illuminated by a weekend trip to Newport, RI, Range of Light accompanied me along a shoreline drive against the Atlantic Ocean. Very few times in my life have I been at a loss for words for any experience, but I can truly only identify those minutes staring the Atlantic in the face with Range of Light by my side as transcendent. There are moments in the work where Carey delivers a melody that is perfect for that single moment, that exact experience. The way his voice carries you around the incredibly layered textures is something I am proud to deduce as cathartic. It will happen when you least expect it, for every listen somehow peels back more from behind the massive curtain Carey holds up. This album is a welcomed can of worms that will continually grow and change you as you let it flow into your daily life.

To be honest I don’t know what a perfect score means. I surmise that art can never be deemed “perfect,” all I know is that Range of Light changed me, and changed my lens on many things once I let it into my life. The sunrise was somehow brighter, the tree in my yard somehow stood taller, the trials of my past somehow became welcomed experiences in the constantly moving arrangement of my life. I am viewing certain things differently.

Enough has been said for this though, this work needs to be experienced. Get this album; find a mountain, and fucking climb it to this endless well of inspiration.

SCORE: 10/10

Review written by Drew Caruso – Follow him on Twitter.

Drew Caruso

Drew Caruso is a Bostonian who, when not writing about music and film, spends his time getting lost in New England, reading books, talking about science whether people want to listen or not, and more. To see the thoughts of a scientist by day and a writer by night, follow him on Twitter.
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