Edie Carey – The Veil: Album Review

Colorado singer/songwriter Edie Carey pulls her heart wide open in this collection of articulate, highly personal songs.

Release Date:  3rd June 2021

Label: Self release

Formats: CD / Vinyl / Digital

In early 2020, folk/Americana singer/songwriter Edie Carey was involved in a serious car accident.  And then, only a few weeks later, COVID hit, and the world has yet to fully recover its composure.  These combined events inspired Edie, a lifelong poet, to give deep consideration to how thinly the security we all take for granted is divided from life-threatening danger, and “The Veil” that separates those two states of being provides the theme that pervades this extraordinary album.

The Veil is Edie Carey’s eleventh album, in a career that began back in 1998 with her debut album, The Falling Places, and is her first full-length album since 2010’s Bring The Sea. Born in Burlington, Vermont, she grew up in the suburbs of Boston, raised by her English father, a schoolteacher, and her stepmother, a poet.  Poetry was ever-present in her upbringing and her interest in music began when she was around eight years old.  Her true musical epiphany, however, came whilst studying at Columbia University, NY, when she was privileged to witness a string of unplugged performances by the likes of Jeff Buckley and Lisa Loeb at the Postcrypt Coffeehouse on Upper Westside, Manhattan.  Thus inspired, she learned to play guitar whilst spending a year in Bologna, Italy, building her confidence by busking in the city’s streets and was ready to go when she returned to New York.

Now settled with her family in Colorado Springs, CO, Edie has an interesting sideline – worth a mention here because if its possible relevance to at least one of the songs on The Veil. Since 2003, Edie’s fans have been encouraged to contact her to commission songs to commemorate personal events – from dedications to cherished partners to obituaries and anything or everything in between – in their own lives.  Several of these commissions have appeared on Edie’s albums and, in 2016, her mini-album, Paper Rings, was a collection of love songs commissioned by her fans.  I’ll come back to this…

The Veil is a collection of articulate, highly personal songs in which Edie pulls her heart wide open as she examines her own fragility, the fragility of her closest relationships and, particularly, the impact that motherhood has had upon her life.  It isn’t always comfortable listening but, for those willing to persevere, the experience is a highly rewarding one.

The album’s title track gets things underway and, when heard in the knowledge of the events that inspired them, the lyrics are highly sobering.  Twangy guitars and a sultry rhythm provide the backing to Edie’s vocal which is both intimate and dramatic and the song has a strong feel of Fleetwood Mac, both in its structure and in Edie’s delivery.

The intensity is raised a level for The Old Me, the second single to be taken from the album.  It’s the first of several songs in which Edie reflects on the precarious state of her family’s unity, a reflection that she undertakes with a raw honesty that is quite breathtaking.  Folky acoustic guitars and a crisp drumbeat provide the backing and the song is an enjoyable one, despite the rawness of the lyric.  And that raw theme is continued for The Chain, the album’s first single.  Once again, despite the intensity of the song’s lyrical content, the tune is joyful – Edie sings with a lighter touch, the bass is strong and pulsing, the percussion is light and the guitars jangle and weave.  As Edie explains, The Chain – written in collaboration with her friend and fellow Coloradoan, songwriter Megan Burtt – “…is about feeling like we are never enough in the eyes of another, that, no matter what we do or try to prove, their view of us remains unchanged.  It’s a song of realization, of recognition and, ultimately, of letting go.”

The challenges of parenthood provide the subject matter for I Know This, an intimate piano ballad with a direct, almost frightening lyric, in which Edie questions her own fragility and her ability to live up to the challenge she’s taken upon herself.  Reassuringly, with lines like: “And I know this will not last, I know this is gonna pass” she shows her understanding of the power of time to heal the deepest of wounds, although the listener is left to ponder, during the song’s extended piano/strings playout, whether peace of mind or hopelessness will triumph.

The pressures of motherhood and that special child-mother relationship is also the subject of Rise, the latest of the three singles to be taken from the album.  It’s a ‘big’ ballad, laced with crashing drums and chiming guitars and, once again, Edie’s deliberations end on a cautiously optimistic note.  Edie is at her most vulnerable for The Day You Were Born, a song with a beauty that is captured right from the opening couplet: “I never knew your mother, she’s been gone so long/ I’ll never get to thank her for giving me her son.”  Edie accompanies herself on piano – the only instrumentation that a song like this needs – as, for the first time, the mood is wholly positive, and Edie’s self-doubt seems to be dissipating.

And that positive mood continues with Teacher, a song in which Edie realizes the truth of the dependency that her daughter has for her.  One of the album’s genuine highlights, the song’s sparse piano accompaniment is slowly augmented as the band comes in and the mood lifts.  The familiar feeling of comparing our own significance to the vastness of space – never a wise thing to do when you are aware of your own inadequacies – forms the theme for All That Space, another intimate song in which Edie’s voice sits at the front of the mix, whilst quiet guitar and shuffling drums bring up the rear, and Georgia is perhaps both the softest and the most intense, dramatic song on the album.  Edie delivers a pleading, breathy vocal whilst piano and violin echo her emotions.

Dedicated to “Sunshine and Shane,” I’m guessing that the delightful The Cypress and The Oak is one of the love songs commissioned by her fans.  Unlike any of the other songs on the album, The Cypress and the Oak is unconditional in its pure positivity.  A song of reciprocated love, with lyrics like: “The cypress and the oak/ The sun shines on you both/ You lean out to let in the light/ And that’s what makes you grow,” it’s clear that Edie sees none of the hurdles in this third-person relationship that she feels so acutely in her own.

The subject of motherhood and the mother-daughter relationship makes its return for Who I Was, another deeply personal reflection, in which Edie considers the changes that her life has been through, culminating in the birth of her daughter, whose presence is now helping Edie to reconcile those changes.  It’s a powerful song that, in keeping with the changing mood of the lyric, switches between close intimacy and something that verges upon grunge.

And after all that intensity, Edie finds peace – of a kind – at last in the album’s closing track, You’re Free.  It’s not an unconditional peace, and the listener is left with a sense that the demons have been subdued, rather than vanquished.  But, after the emotional turmoil of a very intense set of songs, that’s probably the best we can wish for.

Watch the Official video to The Old Me – the second single to be taken from The Veil – here

Edie Carey Online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Spotify / YouTube

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