Saturday, November 26, 2011

Carter Tanton - Freeclouds (2011)

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When I was first introduced to Carter Tanton that fateful night in a room, his album Freeclouds has been on the brain. At the time I had only heard album opener “Murderous Joy” and knew without a doubt that I wanted this album. Never mind that Carter Tanton has a rather impressive set of credits that include guitar duty with Boston dream pop songstress Marissa Nadler and Baltimore’s Lower Dens.

Freeclouds starts off with ”Murderous Joy” arguably the best track on the album. Every singer-songwriter, band, or artist should strive for that one song that’s so great people can’t stop listening to it and this might very well be Tanton’s. It’s emotional without being melodramatic, with a plainsy whisper that recalls the rolling hills of the countryside viewed from the window of a departing train. And just when you think you know what to expect from the album, you get a hazy duet with Marissa Nadler in the form of “Fake Pretend”. Despite all the noise and effects, Tanton and Nadler’s vocals cut clear though – simple and sweet.

Freeclouds makes some reference to David Bowie’s “Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud” (most notably in “Pitch Bent Flute”), but if you’re like me and have merely a passive knowledge of David Bowie’s music you’re certainly won’t be left out of the loop. Tanton combines all the strengths of his other projects to spectacular effect without being upstaged by them. “Murderous Joy” proves right away that Tanton’s a skilled songwriter so the rest of the album you’re not distracted looking for proof. Instead it gives him room to explore and experiment while occasionally grounding it with tracks like “Saturday” and “In Knots”. Each track offers up something new – some new effect or unexpected twist that all come together to make for a diverse but not disconnected album. Freeclouds is a delightful listen that grows better with each listen –as intricacies give way to revelations and yet, it’s an album that’s endearing simple. There’s no grandstanding like some singer/songwriters are sometimes wont to do – instead it’s just a collection of songs that are honest, sincere, and most importantly just plain good.

Get a taste of Freeclouds with the video for "Horrorscope":

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