Amy reviews Jack Carty’s latest album Break Your Own Heart
Album: Break Your Own Heart
Released: 27th of April, 2012
Break Your Own Heart sees a darker, more dynamic turn in Carty’s song writing coinciding with a year that was, in the words of the man himself: “Simultaneously one of the best and worst of my life.” From the rolling guitar line of opening track The Length Of Canada (co-written with Grammy Award Winning Songwriter Dan Wilson), through the gritty directness of Everything, Unhappily, the immense longing of songs like Travelling Shoes and She Loves Me to the ironically upbeat swagger of Waiting, Waiting!, Break Your Own Heart is a stunningly unified, moving and thoughtful collection of songs that effortlessly captures a time and place in a young man’s life. A time and place I’m sure most of us can relate to.
When I think of the year 2011 in the future I am sure I will overwhelmingly remember airports, highways, train stations and other people’s couches. This record is about that. Not the travel necessarily, but about giving up a lot in one area of your life in order to try and achieve your goals in another. I think that is a crossroads most people come to at some point along the way.
Jack Carty is a story teller and a poet. His stories are honest, sincere and engaging.
In his latest album, Break Your Own Heart, Carty takes us on his personal journey of an eventful year of self-discovery. Throughout this journey, we see twists and turns, we feel heartbreak, we experience the uncertainty of life and the beauty of existence.
As is quite often the case with folk music, we get a sense of time and place, of storytelling and of a journey. With tracks titled The Length of Canada, Travelling Shoes, A Point on a Map and Waiting Waiting we definitely get the sense that Carty was traveling a lot during the writing of this album, which gives the album a real freshness.
The opening track, The Length of Canada is a truly remarkable piece of musical art. The triplet rhythms in the guitar riff over the top of a steady 4/4 beat on the drums gives us a feeling of movement, travel and exploration. In my minds eye, Carty evokes a scene of traveling down an endless highway, full of twists and turns that take us on a journey through the Canadian countryside. Carty’s enchanting voice and great use of melodic shape sends goosebumps to my arms every time I listen to this track.
The second track, Too Many Things In Too many Places, shows us how thin Carty has spread himself throughout the making of this album. We feel his homesickness, but also his desire to travel and experience all the sights and sounds of the world. With lyrics like “He wants too many things in too many places, a comfortable home that I’m always away from. I want the Williamsburgh Bridge, the Tower of London, I want the mountains of Germany, I want you there to want me – I just want to come home, there’s so much to run from”.
In the track Traveling Shoes, a subtle guitar line quietly follows the shape of the vocal melody on the word “traveling shoes”, which is absolutely magical. In verse 2 when Carty sings the melody up an octave, we experience the sheer beauty of his voice in this register, and I can guarantee you, your heart will break at this point in the song. Strings slowly wrap their warms arms around us, so subtly, yet so convincingly. Everything in this album is there for a reason. Carty never clutters the space with unnecessary sounds, electronics, reverb or other effects. All the instrumental lines have been thought of and carefully crafted to match his incredibly poetic lyrics. Carty says a lot, with not much! Now that’s talent.
In the track, A Master of All Things, Carty uses a repeated note on the guitar, which acts as a pivot to some really beautiful and colourful chords and I couldn’t help but be reminded of Chopin’s Raindrop Prelude at this point, perhaps because Carty also makes lovely use of a piano in this track, particularly in the high registers.
A banjo and harmonica take the stage in the track Waiting, Waiting!, which reminds us that although Carty is experimenting with different styles and feels, his roots remain firmly planted in folk.
Some unusual and interesting rhythmic phrases are used in the track Break Your Own Heart, which keep us guessing as to what its time signature might be. Carty also introduces a trumpet, again, very subtly, almost as though it’s coming from another room in the distance.
All this from a young man who always performs with his shoes off!
In this album, we also see a young man out in the world, following his dreams, but making sacrifices to do so. Just to reassure you Jack that you’re doing the right thing, I love what you’ve done with this album and give it 4.5 out of 5 kisses. We all think you were born to write music, and with lyrics like “I want to play this guitar until the day my heart fails me” we’re convinced there’s nothing else you’d rather be doing either. So please, keep on traveling, keep on writing and keep on bringing us the joy of your music.
To Listen to Jack Carty’s mucic visit his website www.jackcarty.com
Written by Amy Bastow for the Kiss My Arts Show on Joy 94.9 – All opinions are mine. Copyright 2012.