CD / DL
Released 26 April 2019
Third album by Brighton-based singer-songwriter whose mystical songwriting and storytelling have been likened to that of John Martyn and Jeff Buckley.
Producer Markus Sieber, who may be familiar to some through his ambient acoustic work as Aukai, seems to have been an inspired choice. The Canoe is built on a fragile and spacious ambience and Sieber has done a fine job in bringing out what he’s called “the quiet and subtle qualities” that provide the palette for Carrie’s songs that carry the symbolic and metaphorical significance of canoes and water-based journeys. Many, if not all the songs, contain some element of birth, death, water, travel and home as their central themes.
Bouncing ideas back and forth between Colorado, Mexico and the UK before coming together in Iceland for the final push, they’ve achieved a finely-balanced set of songs accompanied by a huge cast of musicians who contribute all manner of instruments, from the familiar to strings and wind plus the more exotic sitar, jarana and ngoni.
A vocal that whispers and caresses the words whilst being carried by a restrained soundtrack, it touches on the sort of gentile eloquence that The Unthanks have made their trade mark. Hold your breath moments, sunlight on the water sparkles, gently rippling notes – you can pick almost any water or river-based analogy as the songs (here comes another) ebb and flow, the title track the perfect illustration.
When the guitar-picking gives way to a more forceful strum, it almost feels like an invasion although the message in the elegant Human Kindness (“a plea and wish for all things to have a safe home”) is overtly hopeful and warming in the thoughts of the safety of home, and the issue to which the album is dedicated. Lazy and easy Gallic flavours cross swords with some cool lounge jazz before Carrie channels some Kate Bush-isms into the grooves of Red Clay Woman. Call To The Wind, on the other hand, takes the subtlety to a level where the songs sound almost improvised with instruments dipping their toes in and out, adding scant flesh and blood to the bare bones of the song.
The Canoe – sounds almost comical but is a genuine call to arms in a therapeutic, and at times spiritual, alternative to the intense nature of device driven modern life.
Watch Deep As We Dare here:
Carrie Tree online: