Posts Tagged ‘Jettison the Valley’

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By the time he was 15, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Carter Tanton was already playing bar shows in his hometown of Baltimore. Two years later, he caught the attention of Gary E. Smith, best known for discovering and producing The Pixies. After working together for a year, they parted ways, but Tanton never slowed down. In the mid-2000’s he released a couple of EPs with his band Tulsa, prompting Rolling Stone’s David Fricke to claim “…his indie-seraphim voice is not of this world…”, and after a particularly impressive live set KEXP’s John Richards said “…he’s one of the best singer-songwriters in the country today.”

Over the years, Tanton has toured and recorded with numerous artists including Marissa Nadler, Strand of Oaks, Lower Dens, and The War on Drugs. In 2012, he assembled Freeclouds, his first collection of songs for Western Vinyl. A couple of years later, Tanton moved to England where he wrote all of the songs on his new album “Jettison the Valley”. His old friend and collaborator Marisa Nadler contributes lead vocals to “Jettison the Valley”, and Sharon Van Etten sings on “Twenty-Nine Palms” and “Through the Garden Gates“.

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Originally released March 4th, 2016

This is a startlingly good album, and it just gets better and better the more I listen.

By the time he was 15, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Carter Tanton was already playing bar shows in his hometown of Baltimore. Two years later, he caught the attention of Gary E. Smith, best known for discovering and producing The Pixies. After working together for a year, they parted ways, but Tanton never slowed down. In the mid-2000’s he released a couple of EPs with his band Tulsa, prompting Rolling Stone’s David Fricke to claim “…his indie-seraphim voice is not of this world…”, and after a particularly impressive live set KEXP’s John Richards said “…he’s among one of the best singer-songwriters in the country today.”

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Over the years, Tanton has toured and recorded with numerous artists including Marissa Nadler, Strand of Oaks, Lower Dens, and The War on Drugs. In 2012, he assembled Freeclouds, his first collection of songs for Western Vinyl. A couple of years later, Tanton moved to England where he wrote all of the songs on his new album Jettison the Valley. His old friend and collaborator Marisa Nadler contributes lead vocals to “Jettison the Valley”, and Sharon Van Etten sings on “Twenty-Nine Palms” and “Through the Garden Gates”.

From the album ‘Jettison the Valley’ out March 4th, 2016 on

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Carter Tanton is a singer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. As well as his solo work he has been a member of Lower Dens and Strand Of Oaks, and recorded or toured with the likes of The War On Drugs and Marissa Nadler. Marissa appears as a guest vocalist on his most recent record, as does the always wonderful Sharon Van Etten.
Carter Tanton’s music seeks to blend roots music from either side of the Atlantic, The Long Goodbye is finger picking from Nick Drake and Richard Thompson’s big book of British Folk, whilst the alt-country of Ryan Adams and Americana of his Strand Of Oaks bandmates are also clear influences. The majority of tracks here take an acoustic guitar as their lead, although the instrumentation builds on that basic sound, incorporating a huge array of instrumentation from synths to slide guitars.

Although the majority of his latest record, “Jettison The Valley”, was written in a trailer by the side of the M5 on the outskirts of Bristol, Carter is originally from Baltimore. The city, made famous by gritty TV show The Wire, is the largest city in Maryland with a population over 600,000 people. Baltimore boasts the rather odd fact that it has more public monuments per capita than any other city in the US. Famous resident include Babe Ruth, Edgar Allan Poe and John Waters, whilst musical offspring include Billie Holiday, Tori Amos and Frank Zappa as well as bands Beach House, Animal Collective and Wye Oak.

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Carter started playing shows in Baltimore at the age of just 15, and found a modicum of critical acclaim when playing in the band Tulsa in the mid-2000’s. Following a legal-wrangle the band split up without releasing their second album, and Carter sunk into the background playing guitar and producing. 2012 saw him return to the front of stage though releasing a collection of songs entitled Freeclouds via his latest home Western Vinyl. 2012 also saw Carter move to the UK and begin work on his upcoming album, Jettison The Valley.

Talents don’t come much more prodigious than Carter Tanton; bar two tracks of pedal steel, Carter plays every instrument on Jettison The Valley, as well as engineering the whole thing himself. His guitar playing throughout is constantly impressive, the way his fingers flutter effortlessly around the instrument, makes it clear that he is someone who has just made playing guitar a part of his everyday life. Whether he’s finger picking his way around a folk number, or propelling the more wide-screen Americana sound, he is just a natural guitar talent.

Whilst Carter has spoke of Jettison The Valley’s very English inception, for the most part it’s his American roots that shine through. The title track, featuring a stunning lead vocal from Marissa Nadler, starts off like Fleet Foxes minus the harmonies and takes a beautiful side-step into Cicada Rhythm-like country, whilst much of the record recalls the varied and versatile work of Ryan Adams. The Dressmaker’s Girl, the stand-out track on the album, has the alternative-country of Heartbreaker nailed, Through The Garden Gates is the sound of gloomier Love Is Hell period, whilst Diamonds In The Mine with it’s gorgeous acoustic guitar works and crystalline pedal-steel is pure Whiskeytown.

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When you’ve called the likes of Sharon Van Etten and Marissa Nadler into help on vocals you’re in danger of not being the star yourself, but Carters own voice is excellent throughout, there’s hints of Gram Parsons and even a touch of a more insouciant Rufus Wainwright at times. What’s even better though is the treatment of the vocals, the use of harmonies and reverb throughout is capable of lifting many of these songs into intriguing territory.

Whilst the story behind Jettison the Valley is intriguing, Carter is prone to the odd clunky lyrical misstep; his regular use of baby, darling and honey are a little grating at times, whilst, “here the sky feels ten feet tall from Wales to the pubs of Hull”, is a lyric that sticks with you for all the wrong reasons, even if it does make us smile every time. There’s also a question of how relevant Carter’s sound is in 2016. This sort of earnest-Americana is entirely out of fashion, and unless you’re a huge fan of the genre, Jettison The Valley is likely to be impressive rather than life changing.

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From the album ‘Jettison the Valley’ out March 4th, 2016 on Western Vinyl Records.

By the time he was 15, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Carter Tanton was already playing bar shows in his hometown of Baltimore. Two years later, he caught the attention of Gary E. Smith, best known for discovering and producing The Pixies. After working together for a year, they parted ways, but Tanton never slowed down. In the mid-2000’s he released a couple of EPs with his band Tulsa, prompting Rolling Stone’s David Fricke to claim “…his indie-seraphim voice is not of this world…”, and after a particularly impressive live set KEXP’s John Richards said “…he’s one of the best singer-songwriters in the country today.” Beyond his critical acclaim, Tanton’s early work was cited as an inspiration by his old friend Adam Granduciel of The War on Drugs. As Granduciel recalled in an interview with Pitchfork, “He was sleeping in someone’s basement, playing every instrument, going through this breakup,…That was the first time I saw someone make music obsessively. I’d never seen anyone living inside of something, to that level.”

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Over the years, Tanton has toured and recorded with numerous artists including Marissa Nadler, Strand of Oaks, Lower Dens, and The War on Drugs. In 2012, he assembled Freeclouds, his first collection of songs for Western Vinyl. A couple of years later, Tanton moved to England where he wrote all of the songs on his new album Jettison the Valley. The change of environment, and his rediscovery of early British influences including Richard Thompson, Nick Drake and John Cale sparked a powerful shift in perspective, which led him to write his most cohesive and personal work to date. Other than the pedal steel featured on two songs, Tanton engineers and plays every instrument on the album. His old friend and collaborator Marisa Nadler contributes lead vocals to “Jettison the Valley”, and Sharon Van Etten sings on “Twenty-Nine Palms” and “Through the Garden Gates”.

More about Jettison the Valley in his own words:
“Jettison the Valley” began in a little dot of a town outside Bristol called Hambrook in the Fall of 2013. I had just moved to England with my girlfriend where we lived in a caravan on her family’s plot of land with the M5 motorway on one side, and a horse farm on the other. To get away from the incessant low rumbling of cars, I often walked along the area’s ancient public footpaths that carve strange ways through the countryside. On those walks, my previous 30 years in America billowed and collapsed in front of me. As I stood there in the blowback, the constant push of time seemed to finally relent, and I found enough distance from it to see my past in clear broad strokes. After a few months we moved to Oxford and lived in a little attic apartment up on a hill. I spent most days watching the weather roll through the valley and writing these songs about my relationship ending. Eventually, I felt I had to come back to the states to record them. I consider this my first solo record. The other two releases I’ve put out under my own name since 2005 were simply collections of scattered recordings, mixtapes essentially. Jettison The Valley” was written in one long sitting, each song feeding the next.

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