Written, performed &co-produced by Joey Carbo
except "autoluminescent", written by Roland S. Howard.
Produced, Recorded, and mixed by Jason Spring and Joey.
(c) 2015 joey carbo.
Review by Christie Matherne Hall:
Joey Carbo is a storyteller on his latest, We're Made of Wood &Fire. The album's nine tracks offer arrangements themed around burning up, spent patience, and debts, owed both to and by the narrator. I have no idea how long it may have taken to write these songs, but they sound like they've been being whittled for a long time now.
Things start out light enough with "I confuse yr body w/ mine," where the swaying melody falls nicely into itself right away, then folds in some accent strings and saxophones. Joey's voice is harsh if only to avoid calling it soft-- in this gentle, provoking way, like a push-tiller chucking away at good soil, with harmonizing vocals to make the bed for a lovely sax/string bridge duet. But don't get too comfortable here.
The second tune, "Thirty Years," goes deeper and darker; the drum is blunted and low to the ground, in a non-literal way, but gets a top-note touch with strategically-placed tambourine. You could close your eyes at the intro and imagine you're the one being absolved in a sacred ceremony, sweating in a dirt-floored leather tent. I'm not kidding.
The collection goes on to tell the story of a colorful life -- or the stories of many lives, scenes plucked out and arranged just so. The songs do not bleed into each other; good transitions and song order.
-"No Strain," a harmonizing and uplifting declaration. Imperfect vocal harmonies are the crown of this song. The edges don't fully match up, and it's wonderful on the ears.
-"Factory Song," wherein we tour around a somber, hard-working life that seems to be waiting for Godot. It has a raw emotional power -- if you have your ear to the ground on this one, waiting for every line, it may be hard to listen to. It's my favorite on the record for what the song gives: the trying emotional experience of waiting for something to change over a long period of time -- which I imagine is difficult to articulate in the space of a few minutes.
-"Most Comfortably Sick" wins the award for most sweetly disturbing. Honest as it gets, it's a lullaby for the end of a rope, and by the end, the rope is audibly fraying.
-"Just Like Sheep" brings the theme of fire back to the forefront. Somewhere in the middle, the music fades out and we're treated to the story of Polly, who thinks the sore on her back is going to kill her, so she sets herself on fire. It's here I wondered if We're Made of Wood &Fire speaks to a human flammability, as if we're made of believer's fuel, waiting to be eviscerated by what we seek.
And that's my take on this record: stories of lost hope, disappointment, and evisceration, with just enough happiness wedged between it all to make the rest that much more powerful, and all the musical precision necessary to pull it off. Listen with quality headphones.
Joey Carbo's solo work as well as the albums he made with both his bands - WHO BY FIRE and ENCOMPASS AND
STALEMATE are featured here and cover the gamut genre-wise. You will find each of his records to be quite different from the next, americana to lo-fi, intentionally sloppy folk rock to full on rock and country, and from ENCOMPASS AND STALEMATE, experimental hardcore from the early 2000's....more