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DEAN CARTER - Songs Without Words / Towards Tomorrow - ALBUM REVIEW


Songs Without Words / Towards Tomorrow

Glastonbury, United States

Blissful and lonely, Dean Carter’s, ‘Songs Without Words/Towards Tomorrow’ is an album that warms the mind and soul. Dean Carter has more or less split the album 50/50, as the title suggests, and delivered us a myriad of songs, well… without words. The instrumentals within this album are delicious, all played on acoustic guitar. Subtle layers and double parts add so much girth to the sound that feels wooden, organic, alive. As the album goes on the songs talk to each other; one may be sad, but the next will come along to comfort it. The album's second half features the same style of hypnotic guitar playing, now paired with Dean Carter’s sublime vocals. Bowie-Esque in tone and texture, they wave in and out of the beat, talking the walking melody along the winding country road painted in brisk strokes by the acoustic guitars. ‘Songs Without Words/Towards Tomorrow’ is a novella, a work of pure emotion. When listening to this album not only did I feel I came closer to its creator, but also to myself.

The opening to the album is instrumental, both literally and in its importance to the atmosphere of the experience that Dean Carter wishes to play for us. ‘Sea of Tranquility’ is slow, steady, vibrant and whole. The sound rises and falls in shallow breaths, it looks at us with yellow eyes and lulls us into its world, its sea. A sea of sound, of mental fortitude and bliss. Give yourself to the rhythm of the strings and you can feel the pace of the player, picking strings for the melody, their fingers alighting on them just a touch or in some cases, pulling them back so they ping with a loud pang, a rogue wave.

Every song in this section of the album which I assume is referred to as ‘Songs Without Words’ is its own entity. There are sad melodies like that of, ‘Nostalgia’ which caters to that self-destructive side within us. In this darkened state ‘Calm Space’ follows up, bringing us back to the light, out of the tidal wake of gloom set upon us by ‘Nostalgia’. This weave of emotion goes on into the section. It pushes, it pulls and each song is mesmerising. The acoustics play together with one another, laying, harmonising and tippling melodies over one another in a polite fashion. You are never lost and you can always feel a warm hand pressed against yours, leading you deeper, further, onwards, ‘Towards Tomorrow’.

The first song with vocals is, ‘All My Friends’. It threw me off my guard; now used to the playing and rhythms of the instrumental songs I was almost meditating on the melodies, the speech-song of the strings. When a human voice broke through the curtain I was at first shocked, but the quality of the voice kept me in my trance, and then pulled me deeper. The vocal is soft and saunters like the strings do, becoming one of the guitars. The vocal songs keep to the melancholy vibe but play with its delivery. ‘All My Friends’ is smooth, subtle, there are lots of gaps where the instrumental is still king. Then there are songs like ‘Thine Is the Kingdom’ which rolls the ship all the way to the vocal side of the water. Deep bass vocals rile up the low end, it's dramatic and ominous but it fits, clashing with the bright strings and mid-vocal. It comes together to form my favourite song and sound on the album by far. Such creative use of textures, depths and velocities come together to form a sound in a space that is utterly unique.

Dean Carter’s ‘Songs Without Words’ would have been a top-class instrumental album. ‘Towards Tomorrow’ would have been a brilliant lamenting acoustic album. Together, they form an album that speaks for itself when it needs to and plays in the wind when it doesn’t. It is an entire emotion wrapped up in sound and I am all the richer for having listened to it, and for that honour, I can only thank Dean Carter.


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