Whether he’s playing with Bon Iver or as S. Carey, Sean Carey always manages to create stunning sounds. His second album, 2014’s Range of Light, was one of that year’s most beautiful releases. We’ve been eagerly awaiting his third record, Hundred Acres, ever since, and Carey managed to create something even more gorgeous.
While these tracks are all brand new, they feel familiar. Each song is like a time capsule, where Carey creates a soundscape that perfectly balances ambiance with personal emotions. From the gorgeously constructed harmonies over the brilliantly understated guitar work on “Rose Petals”, it’s impossible to not be captivated. Yet on “Hideout”, he brings the record to soaring heights with its eye-popping ending, which features stirring strings and bells and, again, those gorgeous harmonies. Even when he dials back the sensory overload, he delivers a lyrical gem in “Yellowstone”.
Most of the record is about his family, as he wrote the LP between tours. Recalling a date with his wife, S. Carey delivers a jaw-dropping folk tune in “True North”. The slow building “Emery” follows. It starts as another mellow folk track before drums and electronics kick in and add a whole new dynamic to Hundred Acres. “More I See” has a layer of guitar effects over a deep-rooted bass that adds to the dreamy quality of the song.
Carey credits “Fools Gold” with defining the sound on Hundred Acres, and unsurprisingly it’s one of the dreamiest tracks on the record. Heck, it’s one of the dreamiest songs of the year. Further personifying the dazzling nature of the album is closer “Meadow Song”. The song includes a huge swell of strings that leads to an intimate moment with Carey singing over just a small layer. It’s a fitting ending where the final memory we’re left with is his incredible voice and the wish for tomorrow to come.
Hundred Acres is a spellbinding record. S. Carey creates immersive soundscapes in a way that very few songwriters and musicians can. It feels a bit too easy to compare him to his longtime collaborator Justin Vernon (a.k.a. Bon Iver) or Sufjan Stevens, but they immediately come to mind when listening to this record. Not solely for how the music sounds, but how it’s constructed, which is with immaculate care and diligence. At the same time, Hundred Acres is all Carey. It is a personal record that is immensely captivating, inviting, and oh so beautiful.
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