Thanks to visiting a killer record store in Austin (End of an Ear), I got my hands on Free Clouds, the newest LP from Carter Tanton. Tanton is no stranger to Boston but we honestly didn’t get enough of him before he returned to his native Baltimore. During his time up here he occasionally charmed us with the sweet sounds of his band TULSA but it was never enough to truly satisfy our desire for his superb songwriting. With Free Clouds he stands out entirely on his own, writing, performing and recording almost every single track himself. There is so much to discover in his music, it is nice to get deep into it with repeated listens. In a word, Free Clouds is mysterious. It’s dreamy sounding and feels free from restrictions, floating in space as the title suggests. But it is also extremely calculated, lush with all kinds of instrumentation and textures that are all well thought out and performed perfectly. At first it seems like an easy listen, beautiful pop songs from a tight full band with a soft and sweet sound. But there is a deceptively hard edge to the whole record, evoking a range of challenging emotions that turns out to be a very satisfying spectrum to explore. There is no shortage of tension, often facilitated by a cosmic pulse of synthesizers and unidentifiable beats. But then decorated with groovy acoustic guitar licks that are seemingly plucked from heaven. Free Clouds is moody and introspective yet gives you nothing but the most holy vibes. Stylistically it is an extremely diverse album that is also entirely cohesive. He uses drum machines and live drums interchangeably and mixes them seamlessly with a plethora of different textures and sound effects. The vocal melodies are so natural and they pour out from the music effortlessly, especially delivered by Tanton’s matchless murmur. With just the right bit of country twang thrown in there, this album pulls at every last one of my heart strings. If you need to be restored give Free Clouds a spin, it will cure what ails you.
Fake Pretend – Carter Tanton (feat. Marissa Nadler) from jeff maksym on Vimeo.
The vinyl is hard to find but if you pick up a CD you can pick one up HERE