Still riding the success of 2014’s Range of Light, S. Carey is slated to return on Feb 17th with Supermoon, a 6 song EP. The release collects alternate versions of some of Carey’s best known works from Range of Light and his debut, 2010’s All We Know. The Supermoon recordings took place over the course of a single weekend, with Carey working with long-time collaborators Mike Noyce and Zach Hanson. Here, Carey slightly alters his arrangements, transforming them from lush and processed to skeletal states, allowing the melodies and lyrics to stand alone.
The opening track on Supermoon is “Fire-scene”, a song that removes the tense fingerpicking and brief piano flourishes from the Range of Light version, turning the song into a meditative piano ballad. When listened to with headphones, you can hear Carey’s foot lifting off the piano’s sustain pedal, background noises and all. It adds a new degree of proximity to an artist whose work is already renowned for being intimate, and draws the listener even closer to his lyrics: “the city’s fire, trapped behind the earth, digging in your deepest dirt”.
“In The Stream” was one of many lauded tracks from All We Know, and of the alternate versions presented here, it shares the most in common with its counterpart. There’s a moment towards the end of the original where multiple layers of Carey’s voice appear, leading to a surge. While that moment is largely missing on this version, it is replaced by Noyce playing a simple viola run. By removing these occasional production tricks and replacing them with live instrumentation, Carey makes the audience feel like they’re in the room with him.
The EP closes with a cover of Radiohead’s “Bullet Proof…I Wish I Was”. Again, Carey finds himself sitting behind the piano, his vocals heavily processed, nearly overpowered by digital reverberation. It’s not too much of a stretch to picture Thom Yorke re-recording his own version in this style, as he has been known to re-interpret his own compositions in a similar manner. Noyce’s viola swells unexpectedly again during the first chorus, and the additional harmonies during this moment are a nice touch to an otherwise bare-bones cover.
For anyone who isn’t a completist, it’s important to understand that Supermoon only contains one new song – the EP’s title track. That aside, the alternate recordings are just as enjoyable as the originals. If you don’t own either of Carey’s full-lengths and want an overview of his work, this might just be the best place to start.