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coverpic flag US - Pennsylvania - Full Moon 232 - 07/31/15

Daughn Gibson
Carnation
Sub Pop Records

Carnation is Daughn Gibson's (a.k.a. Josh Martin) third platter, following All Hell (White Denim, 2012) and Me Moan (Sub Pop, 2013). Daughn Gibson's intense and sensual ambient-meets-country music crooning pop is quite an experience and for sure something else. This is something completely different from most Sub Pop records. Singer-songwriter-musician Gibson tells some different tales from the dark side. Music from a different kitchen.

Where his former recordings seem to be somewhat more primal and raw, Carnation is almost dripping with heated thoughts of life and death. Like his label, Sub Pop states, the album is 'a high-wire balancing act, at times sexual, emotionally intense and comforting', with 'lyrical subject matter that shares a kinship with writers Raymond Carver and Donald Ray Pollack. The music here combines with those lyrics to widescreen effect, and Carnation feels filmic in its execution: It evokes, and in many ways pays homage to, the works of Tim Burton, Pier Paulo Pasolini, and John Waters.' Dark literature and dark cinema, yes, but also holding some (black) humour on the way. At times Gibson is heavily into some laidback, ambient trip-hop sequences, for in the next second to sound like pop ambience as heard from David Sylvian, with the 'twang' of Chris Isaak or the laze'n'daze of John Martyn. Daughn Gibson's song writing and storytelling is described as 'the chaos of circumstance', with Carnations unveiling eleven songs as short stories: From Daughn Gibson's own passing away and where he laments the cruel hand dragging him back to earth (on the opening "Bled to Death"); the story of an ambivalent man suddenly awaking to the disease of masculinity, and formulating a plan to eradicate it (in "A Rope Ain't Enough"); the story of a young man recently released from a mental health facility desperately searches for sexual intimacy ("Daddy I Cut My Hair").

Carnation is elegant and sensible, dark and brooding but to me it is at times way too much. It is a bit too slick. That said, it's also a fascinating listen.

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