On The Banks of Nashville’s Sound | A feature with Ezra Carey
(Photo Copyright Tony Hayes of Verve Studios Photography, 2014)
It’s a surprisingly slow day at The Pharmacy when I walk in to meet my girlfriend for lunch. I see Ezra sitting at the bar across the restaurant as I walk to the table where she is sitting. I let her know I’m going to say ‘Hello’ to a friend and that I’ll be right back. He has his back turned when I take the seat next to him and interrupt a conversation he was having with his friends. He turns around and we do the typical catching-up routine even though he is slightly out of it having just gotten out of a yoga class. There’s a to-go bag of food on the bar next to him. It’s some sort of chicken sandwich for his fiancée that he may eat before it ever gets home to her. We say our goodbyes when I realize I left my girlfriend alone at the table.
Before I ran into Ezra at the burger joint it had been some time since I saw him. It was around last year’s colder months when he and I sat shivering–well I was shivering–on the porch of The Red Door in Midtown. What we specifically talked about that night has escaped the closest orbit of my memory. But, I do remember it being more than just surface conversation. Possibly philosophical.
“I should interview him”, I say to my girlfriend on our drive home.
“Then do it.”
A little over a week later I’m wanting to do a piece that isn’t work related. And, as if Facebook could read my mind Ezra’s music page pops up on my feed. Ah-Ha!, I think to myself. I have already listened to his older work on Spotify a few months ago and remember recently hearing the song, Portland Summer (On and On), off of his new EP.
Since Ezra moved to Nashville from Portland three years ago he has been busy writing. But, before he parted ways with the Pacific Northwest he released an album, his first, titled ‘Fire Keeps Us Warm‘. The songs are tinted with heavy singer-songwriter and folks tones. It was released in Portland in 2009 with help from his friend Brian Hall.
“He (Brian) was really influential in the sound. We worked really well together”, Ezra reflects.
Two years later his sound changes slightly with the release of ‘Death Psalms‘. This EP shied away from his debut album and shifted toward a dark blues/rock sound. It seems like those genres are where Ezra feels at home. That is until you hear his newest EP titled ‘On The Banks of the River Lethe‘.
(Death Psalms by Ezra Carey artwork)
‘On The Banks…’ is a tribute to the 80s. Working with Konrad Snyder and Gabe Simon, the team produced tracks heavy in synth, driving bass and guitar, and electric drums. The stacked harmonies may remind you of Bruce Springsteen or M83. This is a more mature sound that you won’t find in his earlier work. Which, if you’re doing it correctly, is what is supposed to happen. He’s left the days of ‘Fire Keeps Us Warm’ in Portland.
“The lyrics are similar in style; story-like. But, when I moved to Nashville I got so sick of the over-saturation of pseudo-folk that I swung the other way I guess.”
And, I’m glad he did. His previous work is great, but it is that “over-saturation of pseudo-folk” that Nashville has to be tired of hearing by now. Ezra is offering a sound that appeals to the audience of Music City who would enjoy his older work while appreciating his new direction.
His momentum toward synth based singer-songwriter isn’t slowing down at ‘On The Banks…’ either. His new project “will still be romanticized of the 80s but much more rhythm-heavy and spacey.”
Peter Barbee from Among Savages will be working with Ezra on his next album which is set to be released at a time in the future I don’t know. This is a good opportunity for you to stay up-to-date with news on Ezra Carey and find out for yourself when that new album is set to debut. Below are some ways to keep tabs on him.