STILL LIFE (PURPLE PEAK VINYL)
*This is a pre-order. Items will ship on or around the release date of FEBRUARY 25, 2022. For orders that have multiple items with pre-orders, all items will be held until every item from the order is available to ship. Please contact us with any questions.
preorder - out 2/25/2022
Label: MERGE RECORDS
Release Date: FEBRUARY 25, 2022
Inside a still life, but still alive...
Still Life, Carson McHone’s third album and first release with Merge Records, quivers like a tightrope, with songs about existing within such tension and surviving beyond the breaking point. These are stories of sabotage, confusion, and surrender. The album is a testament to the effort of reaching, sometimes flailing, for understanding and for balance. Still Life invites us to gasp at our own reflection and acknowledge the unsettling beauty in this breath.
McHone’s 2018 Carousel, produced by Mike McCarthy in Nashville, was a reimagining of songs from her formative years coming of age playing in Texas bars. It established her
as a shrewd lyricist who raises unconventional questions with language equally at home
in a short story or a poem. Still Life addresses a broader picture. It is thematically more refined and yet more daring. McHone’s voice remains front and center, but it’s richer, darker. Wielded more than woven. A gorgeously wrought instrument for pushing meaning forward.
The songs of Still Life were written in quiet moments between tours and recorded away from Texas in Ontario with Canadian musician and producer Daniel Romano. McHone says of the session, “Daniel is a perceptive player, and his response was intuitive and organic. We attacked these songs as a blank canvas. Shadows sharpened and came to life as full vignettes that felt familiar in a magical way, a product of keeping things emotionally open.” Together in a home studio they cut almost the entire record themselves, calling on two friends, the versatile Mark Lalama on accordion, piano, and organ, and David Nardi with some savvy saxophone, to round it out. The phrasing and tones recall John Cale, The Kinks, Richard and Linda Thompson—like-minded artists of the late ’60s and early ’70s, another era of transition and innovation.
On Still Life, the musical punctuation is intricate, erratic, and at times even playful. The arrangements provide texture to the landscape of the songs while sustaining the underlying thematic tension. The album opens with “Hawks Don’t Share,” a literary allusion to the creative sabotage that often confronts artistic alliance. The title track plays out an anguished spiraling. Right at the point where language fails, the vocals break away into fuzz guitar
and violent, incessant piano, as if the turmoil can only be expressed by music. In “Sweet Magnolia,” the strings, horns, and piano create a perfect orbit for the mannered intensity
of a song that soars but is essentially spoken. “End of the World” builds with dark and dissonant violins over a repetitive major guitar progression. The punchy sax and tumbling toms of “Only Lovers” play into the ruse of pretending you haven’t already fallen when you have. On the buoyant “Someone Else,” McHone’s assured vocal delivery cuts to the punch: I’m caught between the two/ sweet despair and hope renewed/ say it ain’t profound babe. Behind her, the rollicking organ and hammering piano conspire to bust down the door and pull us along.
More than timeless, Still Life is timely, inherently modern, immediate. The final song, “Tried,” acts as a kind of eulogy for the in-between spaces these songs embody. The album challenges us to take responsibility for what we experience and how we negotiate gravity moving forward. Still Life summons us to the present in all its complexity, daring us to join in the deliberation.
Let’s find a new language to use so we’re not confused
1. Hawks Don’t Share 2. Still Life
3. Fingernail Moon
4. Someone Else
5. Spoil on the Vine
6. Sweet Magnolia 7. Only Lovers
8. End of the World 9. Trim the Rose
10. Folk Song 11. Tried
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