Songwriter S. Carey opens
Open mesinger, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist S. Carey’s new album opens with “Dark,” a beautifully airy track filled with overwhelming sentiment, beginning with the very first words Carey sings: “If I ever lost you , I’ll throw myself into the deepest bend in the river/And I’ll pray that I can find you in places I don’t even believe.
The emotional weight of the song matches the circumstances of Carey’s life in recent years as he navigated the end of his marriage, the death of his father and more. Writing songs during this time, Carey reached a fork in the road, wondering if he was truly ready to open up and reveal the more vulnerable parts of himself.
“I didn’t know if I wanted to share that part of me,” Carey recently said over the phone. “But ultimately I felt like it was important because everyone goes through loss and changes at some point in their life. It’s part of being human.
The decision also reminded Carey of his role as a songwriter and musician. “Music can touch people all over the world. It’s really powerful, and sometimes you have to remind yourself that it’s your job or your calling. Especially during a pandemic, you have these thoughts, like, what is my purpose? And that’s one of them,” said Carey, who is currently on tour supporting Open me, including a stop at the Rumba Café on Friday, May 13, with fly-half Courtney Hartman. (The concerts are between tours with Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver, a band of which Carey has been a longtime member.
Despite loss and grief, Open me isn’t meant to be, and doesn’t look, a solemn affair (see the bright, hearty “Sunshower”). “There are songs about heartbreak and divorce, but the record as a whole is about a whole lot of different things,” Carey said. “It’s about facing deeper parts that you might not want to face every day, but are important to do.”
While the often delicate songs of Open me provided Carey with an outlet and a way to sort out her emotions, the live show is a different animal, satisfying a need for connection in the moment without lugging the baggage of the last few years on stage every night. “I was nervous about not getting too emotional or not holding on, but that wasn’t really a problem,” he said. “I mean every word I say and sing, but you don’t have to step into that emotional place every time you do.”
Reflecting on the process of creating the album now, Carey is grateful “to have had that little bit of courage to do it, and not only to share the music, but also to try to live in a different way and to be more vulnerable in my own life,” he said. “It feels really good. It’s like you’re growing up and going somewhere. It’s hard, but maybe it’s for the best.