Today, with the release of stirring new song “Waking Up,” S. Carey offers another look into the heartrending yet hope-filled world of his first album in four years. Out April 22nd on Jagjaguwar, Break Me Open sees the songwriter, producer, polymathic musician and longtime Bon Iver member confront a period of life-changing pain and loss, defying the darkness through a vow to stay present and vulnerable. On the title track and first single, NPR Music says that S. Carey “lays bare an emotional upheaval: a failed marriage, watching his children grow up, and looking inward to accept personal faults and wrongdoings…but this is not a song about self-pity, but rather a look forward with gratitude and humbleness.”
Over the four, four-lined verses of “Waking Up,” S. Carey moves through multiple stages of grief, turning the initial shock of heartbreak into deep sympathy for his loved ones. Accompanied by a heavenly string arrangement from Rob Moose (Bon Iver, Phoebe Bridgers) and a hymnal piano and synth progression from Eli Teplin, Carey exposes his inner self, sheds new skin and realizes he has emerged a better person. He says, “‘Waking Up’ is a song I wrote with Eli Teplin. Eli had sent me a few ideas; one was a vibey, contemplative piano loop. I really loved the pacing of it – kind of in time, but kind of rolling like gentle waves. The lyrics lay bare what I was going through at the time: grief and heartbreak. And the minimal instrumentation with Rob Moose’s beautiful strings mark a soft moment on the record.”
Filmed at The Hive in Eau Claire, WI by Knorth Studios and Ivy Media, S. Carey has also shared a spellbinding live performance of “Waking Up.” Sitting alone at the piano, he improvises and imbues the song’s motif with darker and more emotionally complex undertones, paring the track’s celestial harmonies down to a single voice full of feeling.
Break Me Open is an album about love, fatherhood and the future. It’s about trying to know oneself better than the day before, and its ten songs are both S. Carey’s most personal and collaborative to date, bringing more voices into his creative community than ever before. He engineered and produced the album with Chris Messina and Zach Hanson, recording between his home of Eau Claire, WI, and Gualala, CA, as well as a number of satellite locations in between. Contributions include co-writes from Eli Teplin (on “Waking Up”), Ben Lester, Taylor Deupree and others, and while S. Carey can be heard on synthesizers, piano, harmonium, drums and guitar throughout, additional instrumentation includes horns by CJ Camerieri (CARM), and more from Carey’s live band. In naming “Break Me Open” one of the best songs of the week, Consequence of Sound says, “As layer builds upon layer – keys, harmonies, horns – so does Carey’s confidence.”
This spring and summer, in between dozens of amphitheater shows with Bon Iver, S. Carey will bring the music of Break Me Open to 20+ headlining tour dates across the US. Stops include Chicago’s Lincoln Hall, Brooklyn’s Public Records, DC’s Miracle Theatre, LA’s Zebulon and more that are listed below and on-sale now. Find tickets at scarey.org/shows.